8 Events to Include on Your Rome Itinerary This Year

"Triumphs and Laments" on the Tiber
“Triumphs and Laments” on the Tiber

Rome is a captivating destination of new sights and old history. The Eternal City has something to inspire anyone through its effortless charm – whether its the first visit or revisiting many times over. With half the year remaining, Rome’s special events calendar is still in full swing. If you’re taking advantage of a last minute holiday or planning fall and winter vacation, here are a few current and future events that would be a great addition to your travel itinerary in Rome:

Triumphs and Laments (pictured above) – A free “outdoor art” exhibition spanning a portion along the walls of the Tiber River. This large-scale contemporary artwork is by South African artist, William Kentridge, and is truly a skillful presentation depicting historic aspects of Rome highlighted by the surrounding Roman views.

Viaggio nei Fori (Journeys through Ancient Rome) – In two separate storylines, journey through the history of Julius Caesar and the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, through a spectacular multimedia presentation set among ancient ruins. Through October 2016.

Estate Romana (Roman Summer) – An annual vibrant summer event throughout Rome consisting of a wide range of cultural events, music, media, exhibitions, and more from July to September. With venues throughout Rome, you can enjoy Rome’s wonders with an added twist, like an open air concert set at The Baths of Caracalla. Visit the official website for a list of daily events planned around Rome, categorized by type.

"Lungo Il Tevere"
Festive summer events along the Tiber River – “Lungo Il Tevere”

Lungo il Tevere (Along the Tiber) – This annual summer festival is most recognizable by the white tented stalls and booths along both sides of the Tiber River featuring pop up shops, tasty morsels and drinks. In addition to the booths, scheduled exhibitions, music, art, and film events are showcased nearby. Find a map and events on their website.

L’Isola del Cinema – After strolling along the riverbank, catch an outdoor film in the charming atmosphere on Rome’s island, aptly named Tiber Island, as it is located in the middle of the Tiber River.

St Peter's Square
St. Peter’s Square

Jubilee – Even if you are not on pilgrimage, this is an extraordinary year to visit the Vatican City. Pope Francis announced an ‘extraordinary Holy Year’ – an event that last happened in year 2000, and is marked by the opening of sealed “Holy Doors” in the great basilicas, including St. Peter’s. An historic and special event lasting through November 2016.

Roma Europa FestivalAn art lovers festival, Roma Europa is an annual cultural event featuring art, dance, theater, music, and film. Events from June through September.

Rome Jazz Festival In celebration of Jazz, Rome hosts an annual Jazz Festival in November – the perfect complement to aperitivo. Stay tuned for this year’s schedule.

Opera and Theater SeasonAutumn begins the new culture season for Theatre and Opera in Rome. Enchantment can be found in many places in Rome, but experiencing Opera, Ballet, and Theatre in the Eternal City is a memorable experience.

Rome night

ROME RENTALS


Escape to Cartagena, Colombia – A Tropical Adventure

Cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia (also Cartagena de Indias)

A city of vibrance, beauty, history, and perfect tropical weather

Cartagena, Colombia is possibly the most attractive city in the western hemisphere, located on the northern coast of Colombia. Recently named the #2 ‘Destination on the Rise‘ in the world by Tripadvisor, you will find more than the typical coastal resort town in this historic city, whose fortress and walled city have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The preservation of its historical colonial heritage, the vibrant old town, with its cobblestone streets and bright colonial mansions, combined with the tropical climate, beaches, numerous islands, and friendly atmosphere create a charming paradise retreat.

Where to stay in Cartagena –

Old Town. Cartagena’s principal attraction is the walled city, an enclosed walking city filled with colorful colonial mansions with flourishing hanging flowers, old cathedrals, monasteries, plazas – a wonderful maze of beautiful sights and vibrant energy. There are many historic sights to see, and so much to discover by just wandering through the streets. Wandering is how the owners of Commendable Rentals found the stunning Cacrtagena Palace, a Palace-turned-Apartments with a rich history, a charming owner, and equally charming accommodations. Restaurants and shopping are plenty in Old Town. Catch the right view, and you can enjoy the blended view of the old and new, historic rooftops in the old city, a shimmering Cartagena Bay, and a skyline of newer developments.

NEW TO OUR COLLECTION – VILLA ALEXANDRA

Cartagena Celedon

Great for families, reunions, retreats – a 5 Bedroom, 5 Bath Villa in the heart of Cartagena, its Historic Old Town. This is the perfect Cartagena accommodation for those looking for the elegance and service of the best hotels, as well as the privacy of a private residence in a spacious home. With a courtyard pool, rooftop Jacuzzi, and hanging hammocks – fall into blissful relaxation. There’s even an option to add on a 36-foot boat for a trip to nearby islands.

Here are a few photos of Villa Celedon and the rejuvenating properties of this relaxing home. See more on the property page.

Upcoming events in Cartagena

NOVEMBER

Independence Day and Miss Colombia Beauty Pageant (Fiestas de Independencia) – This is a 4 day annual festival held in the beginning of November flooding the streets, beaches, rooftops, and sea. From floats, street parades, boat parades, costumes, indoor and outdoor parties, this is Cartagena’s likeness to Carnival.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY

HAY Festival – Annual celebration of literature, philosophy, film, and music with special guests often attending for discussions, book signings, and talks. Concerts are held in the piazzas.

BOOK YOUR TROPICAL ADVENTURE TODAY


Upcoming Events in Sermoneta, Italy

See more of Sermoneta

Welcome to Sermoneta.

A perfect medieval Italian village, Sermoneta is about an hour drive south of Rome, with a wealth of touring possibilities within and surrounding the city.

Sermoneta is a rare, largely unchanged hilltop village, with the fortress of the Castello Caetani (Caetani Castle) looming over its preserved beauty.  Set in the Lepino Mountain Range, stunning views overlook the vast countryside and out to the sea.

While the village itself is worth the visit, with cobblestone alleys, historical intrigue, and not to mention the serene Italian way of living, there are also plenty of events and sights to see that showcase Sermoneta’s vibrance. Here are some of the upcoming events you should plan for in 2016:

Gardens of Ninfa
Starting with the enchanting Gardens of Ninfa. The magical gardens are listed #1 things to do in the Latina region on Tripadvisor – certainly not to miss if you can catch a visiting date. These romantic gardens have been preserved around restored ruins, with a uniquely perfect climate allowing the gardens to flourish. To preserve the delicate nature of the gardens, there has historically been very limited openings to visitors. This year, more open days are available than in the past, giving visitors a chance to see one of the most beautiful gardens of Italy. Plan your trip – see all 2016 Gardens of Ninfa dates.

Love music? Several summer festivals showcase Sermoneta’s vibrance, like Maggio Sermonetano – a series of concerts and events in the streets of Sermoneta, or Festival di Chitarra “Caroso” – an international guitar festival in August.

Of course, there’s always room to celebrate wine and food! See all these exciting events below –

Sermoneta tower MAGGIO SERMONETANO (MAY SERMONETA)

Music and art fill the streets and squares of Sermoneta during Maggio Sermonetano (May Sermoneta). Enjoy free events of several musical genres, from popular music, jazz, classical to workshops, poetry, cinema, and more.
SEE MORE: MAGGIO SERMONETANO

 Sermoneta Caetani Castle

 

FESTIVAL DI PONTINO DI MUSICA

In June and July, the International Campus Foundation of Music organizes concerts of classical music, chamber music, and contemporary in the beautiful setting of Castello Caetani.
SEE MORE: PONTINO MUSIC FESTIVAL

Chitarra FESTIVAL DI CHITARRA “CAROSO”

In August, authors and performers from around the world celebrate the world of Guitar, with plenty of performances around Sermoneta.
SEE MORE: GUITAR FESTIVAL

 Wine SKYWINE FESTIVAL

A local cultural event at the end of August, the SkyWine Festival showcases the regional food and wine, as well as art, for a total cultural immersion.
SEE MORE: SKYWINE FESTIVAL

 Olives SECOLARE FIERA DI SAN MICHELE
At the end of September, experience a traditional fair exhibiting local specialties, from organic products, food stands, wine, as well as musical entertainment, shows, seminars and farm education.
SEE MORE: SAN MICHELE FAIR
 Gardens of Ninfa LIFE DRAWING AND FRESCO PAINTING CLASS
NEW! A unique opportunity to learn history, ancient techniques of life drawing or fresco painting in the Gardens of Ninfa, under the guidance of professors from the Academy of Fine Arts of Rome.
SEE MORE: ART IN SERMONETA


Of course, a holiday in Sermoneta wouldn’t be complete without an equally beautiful place to stay –
Domus Doull

Sermoneta Review

BOOK YOUR SERMONETA HOLIDAY 


New Villa Listing on the Côte d’Azur – Special Introductory Price

Bastide des RosesWe are excited to introduce our new listing, La Bastide des Roses, a 6 Bedroom Villa set in an enchanting garden estate. Approach the Villa through lavender and jasmine-line paths, and admire an earthy stone exterior highlighted by lush greenery – a calming entrance to a French Riviera escape.

The idyllic home projects true Provençal living with authentic country chic decor, several terraces for al fresco dining and relaxing, and a magnificent gardens of ancient olive trees, tall cypress hedges, bright oleander, fragrant lavender, figs, pears, cherries, and of course, flourishing roses – hence the name. Situated near Grasse, France, considered the world’s capital of perfume, the Villa reflects the floral identity of the region.
Bastide des Roses garden
One key feature of the Villa is the magnificent pool and poolhouse oasis. Surrounded by high hedges and scenic gardens, the pool house is the perfect, private sanctuary. Ease your mind with a swim or just enjoy this stunning oasis in Mediterranean paradise.
Bastide des Roses PoolIf you’re looking to travel to the French Riviera, Bastide des Roses will be sure to delight. Don’t miss an exclusive opportunity for an introductory price.

See more about Bastide des Roses


A Closer Look at Klosters: Luxury and Adventure for Christmas

New! Last minute availability at a newly reduced price at exclusive Klosters Chalet.
Spend Christmas Week in luxury at 25% off!


Chalet L'Ours

Klosters, Switzerland: A stylish alpine ski village for royalty. Literally. A dreamy experience in Klosters can be yours, with a deal that can save you all the headaches of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. Scouring stores to find gifts for family and friends may work out sometimes, but the new gift-giving trend is the gift of experience. Christmas week is still available at fabulous Chalet l’Ours, a luxury chalet minutes from the center of Klosters village, and it’s a perfect gift for everyone, including yourself!

About the Chalet
Klosters is utmost luxury, and Chalet l’Ours contributes to that luxury experience. A sturdy, dark-paned exterior and bursting red shutters standing in contrast to white, powdery snow, Chalet l’Ours is reminiscent of a colorful illustration in classic fairytales. It is one of the last log cabins left in Klosters, retaining an authenticity of a mature and quiet Swiss village. Upon entrance of the chalet, a striking luxury shows through in each corner of the home. Completely refurbished, the four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and common rooms have such intricately pleasant details that it is hard not to marvel at the aesthetics.

The chalet is a short few minute walk to the nearest ski lift, resort center, and restaurant, while only five minutes from the Gotschna cable-car, giving access to all the mountains serviced in Davos Klosters. The full range of luxurious services and delicious food offerings, however, may be enough to persuade spending many nights in comfort at home. A truly wonderful Alpine chalet, a stay at Chalet l’Ours is everything you dreamt of for this year’s holiday.

About Klosters
Klosters Ski Resort

There’s something for everyone in the scenic ski village of Klosters – from world-class skiing in the Swiss Alps to in-room breakfast service and top-notch spas.

Snow activities
Offering some of the most exciting skiing in Europe, Klosters shares its skiing network with the nearby ski resort of Davos, providing over 190 miles (307km) of downhill slopes, 97 individual pistes, served by 52 lifts. For seasoned skiers, the challenges are endless with its extensive off-piste possibilities and excellent local ski guides. However, Klosters offers something that suits every level – from beginners to experts. There are miles of cross-country ski trails, 2 terrain parks and a half pipe available for snowboarders, snow shoeing provides a slower paced thrill to take in the incredible scenery, tobogganing, and almost every snow activity you can imagine.

Plan a romantic ride or delight the kids with a horse-drawn carriage ride through the magical winter landscape of Klosters. Bundle up under a heavy blanket and enjoy the magical silence of the glistening landscape while listening only to the sounds of hooves galloping.

Many winter events occur in Davos Klosters, an earmark of the superb surroundings and active community. Top cross country skiers compete at the FIS Cross Country World Cup in early December, while the ice hockey Spengler Cup tournament falls during Christmas Week until New Year’s Eve. In the peak of the winter season, other events include performances of music featuring figure skating champions, as well as the famous downhill ski race, the Parsenn Derby, highlighting team and individual high standard competitions.

Other activities
If you’re looking to relax, Klosters is known for many luxurious spas, including the magnificent Vereina Spa, set to open right in time for a Christmas stay. The spa is a Roman-inspired theme complete with herbal baths, an elegant pool area, steam baths, salt grotto, ice fountain, relaxation room, and of course offered massages.

Pampering yourself always includes appetizing food. Klosters does not lack delicious food, from charming eateries to Michelin-star restaurants, as well as a village of abundant shops and art galleries to stroll through after a full meal. One of the best indulgences you can partake in, however, is a meal in the comfort of home at Chalet l’Ours. With a roaring log fire and beautifully decorated dining area setting the mood, the chef at Chalet l’Ours creates a meal not to be missed. Start with a sparkling glass of Champagne and delight the senses with savory contemporary fusion like Thai Prawns or creme of cauliflower and truffles. Providing ultimate luxury and comfort brings many guests back to Chalet l’Ours year after year. Make it your year for the exceptional winter vacation you imagined.

 


Magnificence in Provence, Countryside and Culture in Southern France

Provence Lavender FieldProvence is one of the most sought after parts of Europe for visiting, and living. An important colony for the Romans, it remains an important attraction today for the French and foreigners. The Roman colony of Provincia (hence “Provence”) was established in 120BC at Aix-en-Provence. The Romans left their mark in countless monuments, including such notable edifices as the Arena and the “Maison Carré” Temple at Nîmes, the Pont du Gard Aqueduct, the Theatre at Orange, and the Amphitheatre at Arles.

The Pont du Gard: a structure that may, at first glance, look like merely a bridge, has instead such historical importance and the construction of incredible skill that it is one of the top attractions in France, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Through the centuries of changing empires, this ancient Roman aqueduct has transformed from its original purpose, built by the Romans to carry water from a spring in Uzès to Nîmes, but remained largely intact and historically preserved.

Pont du GardTruly a magnificent feature in Provence, the renowned southeastern region of France, the 18th century writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote upon visiting the famous site:

“I had been told to go and see the Pont du Gard; I did not fail to do so. It was the first work of the Romans that I had seen. I expected to see a monument worthy of the hands which had constructed it. This time the object surpassed my expectation, for the only time in my life. Only the Romans could have produced such an effect. The sight of this simple and noble work struck me all the more since it is in the middle of a wilderness where silence and solitude render the object more striking and the admiration more lively; for this so-called bridge was only an aqueduct. One asks oneself what force has transported these enormous stones so far from any quarry, and what brought together the arms of so many thousands of men in a place where none of them live. I wandered about the three storeys of this superb edifice although my respect for it almost kept me from daring to trample it underfoot. The echo of my footsteps under these immense vaults made me imagine that I heard the strong voices of those who had built them. I felt myself lost like an insect in that immensity. While making myself small, I felt an indefinable something that raised up my soul, and I said to myself with a sigh, “Why was I not born a Roman!”

Extraordinary architecture in Romanesque and Gothic styles can be found all over the region. One of the notable features are the hilltop medieval towns and villages, vestiges of the violent period of more than a thousand years following the end of Roman rule.

Uzes Village in Provence
The Village of Uzes

At the original source of the water which supplied the town of Nîmes via the Pont du Gard, is the town of Uzès. Uzès is a small town with a large reputation. Its wonderful buildings and architecture, along with its thriving cultural activities, and renowned weekly markets (Wednesdays and Saturdays) have contributed to its fame. In 2014, the Guardian newspaper in England designated it as the second best place in the world to visit (the first was Cape Town, another of our favorites), a remarkable endorsement for such a small town. The town has attracted many artists and artisans, as well as up-and-coming chefs, as the numerous excellent restaurants attests. There are many attractive villages in the surroundings of Uzès, and walks, bike rides, or drives through the many vineyards to these ancient villages are very appealing, and a great introduction to the region of Provence.

Among the countless sights of Provence, you cannot go wrong putting the Pont du Gard at the top of your list. In addition, settling into the charming town of Uzès will have you feeling “Chez Vous”.

Uzes stroll
A stroll through Uzes
Uzes chic apartment
A glimpse of one of our Uzes apartments

See more places to stay in Provence


An Embrace with Culture From a Vacation Rental

Rome keyholeWhen you search for places to stay in Rome, Paris, or wherever your desired travel plans take you, a slew of choices appear: from hotels, hostels, convents (believe it or not), apartments, B&B’s, free couches, and of course, vacation rentals. Surely, personal preferences will rule out many options quickly, but the choices can be overwhelming,  What begins as an eager attempt to plan a fun vacation, can quickly become a daunting and tiresome task- making your eyes blur and your head ache. Talk about information overload! Going with the safe choice for fear of exploring new options can make you miss out on a magical experience. I’m happy to share with you my first experience in a vacation rental and how I saw my future vacation choices changed forever.

Before I became a member of the Commendable Rentals Team, my introduction into the world of vacation rentals came when planning my first trip to Rome.  Beginning with my usual routine to search for a place to stay, something caught my eye as I scrolled the pages for Rome lodging. Renting an apartment instead of a hotel both intrigued and inspired me. I had always wanted to stay in a foreign country as more than just a tourist in a hotel. I wanted to embrace the culture of the Eternal City, not just seeing the sights, but living the culture, like a local. I wanted to hear the locals speaking (ah, lovely Italian!) and interacting in their daily lives, not only through commercial transactions. The idea that I could rent a house or apartment from a local and pretend it was my home was immensely appealing. And actually, it did become my home- at least for the extent of my stay, and always in my fond memories.

Living Room

The beauty of staying in a vacation rental is that it already has the feel of home. Here at Commendable Rentals, we pride ourselves on selecting homes with character, just like the one I rented. From the unique decorative details to the charming authenticity of the buildings, each special vacation home brings the comfort and familiarity of “home” while resonating the local vibe of each destination. For those historically-inclined, especially in Rome, you can often discover interesting stories about the history of the residence. A building’s architecture can be aesthetically pleasing, but the architect, design, and background of a home (and its owners) might bring new life to your stay. Like in a good story, immersing yourself in the setting and gaining a sense of living the adventure elevates the experience.

Vacation Rental KitchenA unique memory I acquired while staying in a vacation home can be attributed the full kitchen. While I did my fair share of eating out, I loved browsing the local Roman fruit and vegetable markets. The large Testaccio Market (where our partnered Expert Roman Food Guide takes her market tours) has such an expanse of regional delectables, I couldn’t resist buying fresh market items to bring home. Even something so simple as washing a snack of fresh tomatoes (so delicious in Rome. Pairing them with the fresh mozzarella, even better!) or creating Italian-inspired meals, the convenience of the kitchen’s refrigerator, appliances, dishes, and real utensils made me feel like I was in my own kitchen.

moka-potI was also able to learn something new in my vacation rental kitchen that gave me the feeling of being Italian, and very proud of myself! When I wasn’t indulging in a coffee break and people-watching at the quaint sidewalk cafes, I was able to privately experiment with different freshly ground coffee beans that I picked up from an Italian specialty store. I attempted making “perfect” cup of espresso using an Italian coffee percolator stocked in the home. As I had been told, though the process is simple enough, the grounds, packing, timing, and pour all contribute to a good espresso.  Coffee aficionados or those that frequent Europe may not see this as a novel experience, but it was something that this budding traveler appreciated doing in coffee-cultured Italy. Among memories of the Colosseum, the vast halls of art at the Vatican museum, the rustic cobblestoned alleys, I still remember quietly enjoying the espresso I poured fresh from the percolator into the cutest blue espresso cup, and sipping it on my balcony overlooking the Roman streets.

Whether a short or long term stay, a vacation rental can offer originality to your vacation that other places cannot. I loved the apprehension and courage greeting Italian neighbours in the elevators with ‘Buongiorno’, and learning informal ways to say good evening. I was able to learn where people buy their newspapers, what they buy at the grocery store, and how they throw their trash (Rome has quite an emphasis on recycling); the things that seem insignificant but are part of the local culture someone would not experience in a place that caters to tourist traditions.

The vacation rental experience is not for everyone, however, it should be a consideration for anyone. For travelers like me looking to experience something beyond a typical hotel stay, the vacation rental option provided an extra layer of intrigue to my travels. On top of that, for someone that is just curious about how people in different places live, this also gave me a chance to peek inside the world of a local’s life…and for that short while, I lived that life, and loved it.

Alley


5 Reasons for a Rome November Getaway (with an added bonus!)

Rome Colosseum

What do you want to see when you visit Rome? Does the Colosseum come to mind, in all its gory, yet fascinating, history? Or perhaps joining the jovial crowd around the enchanting Trevi Fountain while devouring a melting gelato. On the topic of tasty treats, what about the assortment of decadent food Rome has to offer – so much more than pizza and pasta (although, those aren’t bad choices either!).

Rome is a mecca of sights, sounds, and tastes for both the new and frequent visitor. The summer months are brimming with travelers visiting this exciting city, but November brings a different flavor. The city is a little quieter, the locals are back from their own summer vacations, and a lighter, festive air arises. Whether you have visited Rome before, or are looking to experience the Eternal City for the first time, November can be the perfect month for you.

Close your eyes, hear and smell the chestnuts roasting at the end of cobblestoned alleys, and drift off to your Rome adventure. For inspiration, we’ve come up with five reasons that will get your senses stimulated for Rome in November:

NUMBER 5 – CRISP, COOL WEATHER.

Rome Old Marketplace#5 – The weather may be cooler, but you can still find beautiful sunny days when visiting Rome in November. Many of Rome’s greatest sights are outdoors, and strolling through the ancient city is a fruitful journey in itself. Pack a jacket and be glad it’s not blistering hot like it was this recent summer. Plan to walk through the ancient roads of Rome – like the sprawling Roman Forum, where Julius Caesar and great Roman minds once strolled along, where remnants of important government buildings and temples played a pivotal part of the city’s development.

NUMBER 4 – FEWER CROWDS.

Rome cobblestone street#4 – By November, the peak season crowds have dispersed, giving a little breathing room while meandering through the city. While Rome’s great attractions are always in demand, the city gains a little elbow room. You can feel more at ease getting the right angle and taking the perfect photo of the Pantheon’s oculus, take your time with a glass (or two) of Italian wine, and gain a calmer, yet still energetic, appreciation of the city.

NUMBER 3 – WINE, OLIVES, AND TRUFFLES.

Tuscany Vineyard#3 – Late Autumn/Early Winter is the season for many tasty offerings. You may see an abundance of the season’s regional fare in Rome’s flourishing markets, or plan a day trip to catch the magic of the grape and olive harvest (on the downswing of the season), or catch aromatic truffle fairs full swing in November.

NUMBER 2 – “CULTURE” TRAVEL.

Theater#2 – Beyond the commonly known sights of Rome, November is an excellent time to catch the new culture season for Theatre and Opera. Also throughout November, two much anticipated events occur – Romaeuropa, a variety of artistic performances found throughout the city at different venues, as well as a week-long jazz festival. What better way to immerse yourself in the city that has inspired so many people than through artistic performance.

NUMBER 1 – ITALIAN FOOD!

Rome Carciofo Artichoke#1 –  What can we say, Italian food is timeless despite season. November brings savory artichokes, delightful porcini mushrooms, floral broccoletti, hearty pumpkin, and divinely produced parmigiano-reggiano cheese – all especially tasty Fall foods in Rome. Many restaurants will serve excellent seasonal fare, though shopping through Rome’s local markets – an entertaining excursion in itself – and planing an Italian-inspired culinary adventure in a fully equipped home kitchen is a satisfying and unparalleled activity. Do as the Romans do, and end your meal with a warm espresso and lively conversation.

**BONUS**

Welcome Rome
If you’re planning a visit to Rome, and are looking for that perfect place to hang your coat in a professionally managed, yet true Roman flat, we have some special November deals for you! Enjoy your slice of the Roman life!


Reveal Your Inner Artist on the Tuscan Coast

Get more out of your next vacation. Be inspired through painting.


Italy has long been known as a country of artistic inspiration. When visiting Italy, the combination of beautiful landscapes, historical influences, delectable cuisine, and hearty culture present the perfect setting to recharge and rediscover life. Stay at an artist’s escape in Porto Ercole, a secluded yet vibrant peninsular town on Tuscany’s Argentario coast. Here, you will truly immerse yourself in the vivid palette of Italian living.

I paint my own reality

– Frida Kahlo

There is now a fabulous opportunity for you to fulfill your dream of being an artist in Italy. Draw on Italy’s inspiration through painting on Tuscany’s coast, under the instruction of the accomplished artist and owner of L’Uliveto.

We are offering a magnificent chance to combine your Commendable Rentals stay at L’Uliveto with a specially reserved painting course that utilizes the natural beauty of the estate’s own surroundings, in addition to the vicinity’s offerings, such as the Port, historic fortresses, the pine forest, and olive groves.



MEET YOUR EXPERT:
MITA CORSINI BLAND

Primarily known for painting watercolor interiors, Mita has a dedicated background in art, with studies in Art History, Watercolors, Interior Rendering, and 5 years of running an Art Department in New York under Michael Jones. She has illustrated for several magazines and books, and completed commissions from top designers to private clients, such as New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg. 

With ties in both New York and Italy, Mita travels and teaches art with a passion. Join Mita in her fashionably restored Italian estate, and take advantage of this unique opportunity to learn from true talent with true Italian roots.



WELCOME TO PORTO ERCOLE



CONNECT WITH THE BEAUTY AND HISTORY OF PORTO ERCOLE

Set in a historic 18th century farmhouse on a magnificent olive estate, L’Uliveto is the perfect place to stay in Porto Ercole on Italy’s Argentario Coast. Mita and her husband took on the splendid restoration of her family’s historic farmhouse, while retaining remnants of its familial past, such as the original, beautifully polished terracotta floors.

Connect with Italy’s lush Tuscan countryside from the scenic patio, stroll through the extensive gardens, or enjoy outdoor living under the pergola. Or take a note from Mita’s own artistic specialty and try your hand at painting the likeness of the charming interior. 

Porto Ercole itself provides fascinating Renaissance features along with its undulating ports and pristine beaches. A long-time fashionable vacation destination to Italians, the picturesque port is yours to explore…and to PAINT!  

“ART IS NEVER FINISHED…”



Click here to reserve your spot!

or EMAIL us: info@commendablerentals.com
 READ MORE ABOUT L’ULIVETO



Made In Italy: Shopping in Rome

 

While it is a treat to shop in Rome, it is not desirable nor worth your limited time filtering through the hundreds of stores searching for the best items. As we’ve all experienced, shopping in an unfamiliar place can be exhausting.

We’re sharing with you a simple, yet unbeatable tip for finding the best shopping spots in Rome. What better way to shop like an Italian fashion expert, than shopping with an Italian fashion expert. Before you discount this as an obvious tip, who will guide you and how to snag a slot in their date book can make the greatest difference between a frustrated or fulfilling shopping experience. First, let’s talk Italian shopping..

MADE IN ITALY: These coveted labels are synonymous with high-end quality items crafted with superior artisanship. You know the names (think: Gucci, Prada, Ferrari), and some you know by celebrity debut. Italian craftmanship is often linked to trades and traditions passed down through generations. The skills adapted to create quality items are what elevate these items to luxury standard.


Shopping in Rome for the high quality latest trends can be daunting if you’re not from the area. Most shoppers will head straight to those beautiful wide window displays near the Spanish Steps. This is a great start, where you can find rows of Roman streets filled with endless shopping possibilities. And to think, this is just one neighborhood amongst many. If you’re looking to bring home a worthy bounty, and maybe a one-of-a-kind item or two, shopping smart is the key.

We like to take a savvy shopping partner with us when trying out the latest trends. When your shopping partner is a well established Italian fashion journalist, you’ll get more than a nod of approval. Journalist for L’Espresso, l’Officiel and Vogue Italia, Eleonora Attolico will no doubt heighten your experience shopping in Rome.

Meet your Expert:
Eleonora Attolico

The daughter of Count Giacomo Attolico (former Ambassador in Paris and London), a member of the Roman social-set, an established fashion expert and journalist, Eleonora offers an elevated insider’s approach to Roman life. 

Eleonora is fluent in Italian, English, French, and Spanish. 

Photo credit: Michele Acampora

Whether you’re looking for women’s, men’s, accessories, or anything you can shop for, your Grand Tour Shopping is customized to your desires. Eleonora revels in the personal experience that can be shared during your time together. She has mastered the "art of shopping" and provides an unmatched knowledge of Rome, fashion, and Italian lifestyle. Mark you calendar for a shopping date!



For more information or to reserve, email us: info@commendablerentals.com

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Top Three Snow Escapes This Winter

Here it is – the top three snow escapes that should be on your radar this winter. We’re delighted to bring you a glimpse of our kind of winter at these must-see destinations. Sharpen those skis and pull out your scarves – mountains and magic awaits.

3. Kitzbühel, Austria – An Alpine Winter Wonderland

Skiing in the Austrian Alps with 170km (that’s 105+ miles!) of ski-ready slopes and 53 cable cars and lifts is an impressive adventure to check off your list. Just north of the Hahnenkamm mountain, host of the annual World Cup alpine ski races, Kitzbühel is amongst the largest ski regions and  most exclusive winter sports resorts in Austria.

Not only beautiful and enjoyable in landscape, the town itself presents everything picturesque; a quaint city nestled against the backdrop of alpine charm. When winter settles into the town, a true winter wonderland offers glimpses in and out of glimmering windows in colorful buildingswith a historic glow and cozy hearths. When not on the slopes, exclusive shopping among the cobblestone streets or a tasty pastry in a cozy cafe, will charm and delight you.

Whether you ski, snowboard, like a brisk winter hike, or prefer the indulgence of fabulous spa treatments, Kitzbühel is your literal breath of fresh air.

A convenient Commendable Rental in Kitzbühel:
Here is your chance to live in the large 4-bedroom penthouse apartment with charming chalet style. It’s one of the biggest and best in town, and it’s right in the center of Kitzbühel. Along with your grand living quarters, the apartment offers fantastic views. The terrace faces south, and from there one can see the famous downhill finishing slope, Streif, of the “Hahnenkamm “race.

With this apartment as your base, you have the perfect location to explore some of the snowy mountains of the Austrian Alps, as well as an elegant and soothing home. Each of the 4 bedrooms has its own en-suite bathroom. There is a separate dining room and a living room with a beautiful, large open fireplace. The apartment is located in the historic center of town, just a stroll away to the ski-lift. The best restaurants and bars are right around the corner, as are Ski rental and ski-school for children. In addition, there is a private ski room for all the ski equipment and garage parking for two cars.

We can also arrange a private cook!

Kitzbühel is so charming!  Find out more details here or below –

Reserve your winter wonderland today

2. Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France – An Adventure in the Alps

The host of the first Winter Olympics, Chamonix and its separate ski stations offer some of the the greatest and most challenging skiing in the world. It is a treasure spot for winter sports, alpine mountaineers, and bikers to get their heart racing in a daring experience among the Alps. The site of one of the highest cable cars in the world brings views of the impressive mountain range and Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps.

A day on the Glacier of the Vallée Blanche, descending from the “Aiguille de Midi”, is an incredible adventure of Glacier skiing that every serious skier should do at least once in a lifetime. Les Grand Montets offers endless, long runs of challenging skiing, and often superb powder snow. For those easing into the sport, easier slopes are available in the closer slopes of the Brévent and Flégère.

The town of Chamonix offers chic boutiques, restaurants from bistro and brasserie up to the Michelin 2-Starred restaurant at Le Hameau d’Albert Premier (and don’t miss its wonderful spa, either). Spend some time at the Chamonix Casino or shake loose in one of the many French-style or modern bars and nightclubs.

A convenient Commendable Rental in Chamonix-Mont Blanc:
This superb Chalet on a quiet street, a stroll from the center of Chamonix, is flooded with sunlight and enjoys beautiful views of majestic Mont Blanc and the Aiguille du Midi. Decorated in chic but traditional Alpine style, it combines charm, refinement and authenticity in a warm, comfortable, yet totally luxurious environment. This is an exclusive chalet of the highest quality, elegantly decorated and furnished, where daily cleaning and a chef can be supplied on request.

The Chalet can accommodate up to 12 people.  It has two master bedrooms with large balconies or terraces and en suite bathrooms. There are four more double bedrooms, all of which have mountain views and their own bathrooms. The large double living room with fireplace is 70 sq meters. The kitchen is well equipped for serving 12, and opens onto the outdoor dining terrace.

The house is surrounded by a large private garden with tables and chairs for 12 for outside dining.

Other great features include a sauna, perfect for apres-ski relaxation, a large fireplace in the living room, TV in all bedrooms and in the lounge, terrestrial and cable/satellite TV, 3 DVD players, Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi, and even a ski room equipped with boot warmers. Additionally, there is a washer and dryer, plenty of parking, and even a heated driveway. We still have weeks available.

 

Chamonix-Mont Blanc is an esteemed adventure! Find out more details here or below – 

  

Be daring and reserve your adventure today


1. Klosters, Switzerland – A Haven to Be Royalty

Klosters is unique. A picturesque Swiss village with an enviable snow record and many great restaurants. It offers great skiing for all abilities, some of the longest runs (12 km) and most exciting skiing in Europe, thrilling off-piste, as well as the wide open slopes of the famous Parsenn. Renowned for its powder snow and long a favourite with its international clientele (including the British and Swedish Royal families) here is a welcoming haven, family oriented, and away from the mass market.

Klosters shares its extensive skiing network with nearby town of Davos; combined, they offer 190 miles (307km) of downhill slopes, with 97 individual pistes, served by 52 lifts.
 Also in Davos, there is access to over 100 shops, several art galleries, 2 museums, and a casino. Klosters is proud of its many restaurants – both on and off the slopes – from fondue stublis to the Michelin starred.

To relax and unwind, there are many spas as well as the famous one in the Vereina Hotel. There are miles of cross country ski trails as well as skating, sledging (with 7 long sledge runs), horse-riding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, winter polo, snowshoe trekking, snowboarding (with access to a half pipe), paragliding, swimming, bowling, tennis and squash.

A convenient Commendable Rental in Klosters:
Welcome to a wonderful private luxury chalet in the exclusive ski resort of Klosters, Switzerland. Recently named as one of the top 10 private chalets available to rent in Switzerland, it sits on a small hill, with sensational views and a 5 minute walk to the lifts and centre of the village.

One of the last log chalets left in Klosters, this chocolate box of a chalet was completely refurbished in 2006. It has 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms and sleeps 8 people.
 A superb chef and house keeper will look after your every need, whilst you can relax in front of a roaring fire after a great days skiing.

It now offers cosy sitting rooms, bedrooms with wonderful linen, and three fire-places (one of which can be found in the master bedroom). It also features beautiful balconies and a terrace overlooking the stunning vista of the resort.

Klosters offers the utmost in luxury. We provide daily room service of morning coffee and tea, breakfast in front of the fire, and fresh flowers and newspapers. but that’s just the beginning. Also enjoy personal dining, a private garden, and all the amenities to meet your every comfort.

Klosters is utmost luxury! Find our more details here or below – 

   

Feel like royalty and reserve luxury today




A Commendable Tour – Africa’s Gems 2015

Africa’s Gems – 2015

 A Commendable Tour
Led by Adrian & Susan Doull

14 February – 15 March 2015

Southern Africa in Three Parts,
with a Distinct
“Diamond Sparkle”

This is an unequaled opportunity to explore the history, the cultures, the ecology of southern Africa, and thereby to understand modern Southern Africa, and the factors influencing it geologically, politically and economically. At the same time enjoy stunning landscapes, wondrous wildlife, and world class hospitality in the two most democratic countries on the continent – South Africa and Botswana.

*Participate in any or all of the Three Parts; though we recommend at least two for the broad experience

Brief Outline of the Trip

Part A includes Johannesburg, the business and financial capital of South Africa, for museums, art, and theatre. Then, we take you to what is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parts of South Africa, the Province of Kwa Zulu-Natal. Touching on the Anglo-Boer War, the coastal World Heritage sites, and a unique Game Reserve with its distinctive ecological environments, and ending at the multicultural city of Durban – South Africa’s most important domestic tourist destination and the largest port in Africa. Jump to more about Part A

Part B takes you to the eastern part of the famous “Garden Route” of the Cape Province, with its exceptional beauty and diverse flora and fauna of the Titsikama Forest, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Wilderness and the Little Karoo, followed by the stunningly beautiful surrounds of the “Mother City”, Cape Town, and ending in Kimberley, where the African diamond industry began, where we will stay at the historic Kimberley Club. Jump to more about Part B

Part C begins with a visit to Africa’s greatest natural wonder, the Victoria Falls, followed by a safari through Botswana’s remarkable land, (today the largest producer of gem diamonds in the world) including the extraordinary Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta in the world. Based always in the absolutely unique environments of luxury lodges and tents at beautiful properties, and ending with a celebratory dinner in JohannesburgJump to more about Part C


A Little Bit About the Countries

South Africa has seldom been out of the headlines in our lifetimes. This complex country (with 11 official languages) is a First, Second and Third World Country rolled into one. It has a mix of races, tribes, religions and cultures matched by few other countries. The arrival of the dominant European culture in 1652 was to set the stage for cultural conflict for the following 350 years, not all of it based on colour, however. The Boer/Brit struggles were as significant to the history as was the Zulu domination of large numbers of black tribes. The discovery of diamonds and then gold on a scale unknown before in history was the catalyst for large scale white immigration, the beginnings of industrialization, and the clash between British imperial avarice and the frontier independence of the Boers.

The White/Black cultural clash was more notable primarily because the numbers involved were greater, and the cultural gap was wider. The absurd impracticability of the apartheid policy was a reflection of the desperation felt by the dominant white culture in attempting to find a solution that did not involve their domination by the culture of the majority black population. Extraordinarily, cometh the hour, cometh the men. The change in political control required not only a generosity of spirit, exemplified by Nelson Mandela, but a courageous repudiation of pseudo-religious dogma among the Afrikaner people by Frederick de Klerk.

South Africa today faces enormous problems, but there is a spirit in the land that perhaps reflects that the people have been to the precipice, and have turned back from it to the broad uplands of hope. We want you to experience this ambiance, but above all we want you to understand this land better, so that your brief sojourn in it will in turn make this country, with all of its problems and challenges, better understood in the world.

Botswana is undoubtedly the most successful of the great number of African countries that attained their independence from colonial rule in the 1950s and 1960s. This is most likely due to a relatively homogenous and small population, a far-seeing and able first President, Sir Seretse Khama, and considerable mineral wealth, especially diamonds. Today it is the largest gem diamond producer in the world.

An arid land, originally home to the hunter/gatherer Koi and San peoples (sometimes known as Bushmen), who were overwhelmed by both white men from the south and black men from the north, it is landlocked and surrounded by Namibia on the west, Zimbabwe in the north, and South Africa in the east and south. It has a remarkable and unique exception to the general aridity – the largest inland Delta in the world – the Okavango. Created a British Protectorate in 1885 at the initiation of Cecil Rhodes, the people lobbied hard and successfully in London to avoid becoming part of the territory under the control of Rhodes’ British South Africa Company. Botswana has been independent since 1966.


About the Organisers

Adrian & Susan Doull are respectively South African and American. They have lived in many countries and have travelled extensively. They have considerable experience in tourism, having created a château hotel in France and participated in numerous French Government tourist delegations around the world. Susan founded Commendable Rentals LLC, a vacation rental marketing business some 9 years ago. Adrian, who spent 20 years with the Anglo American Corporation/De Beers group, including a couple of years as personal assistant to Chairman Happy Oppenheimer, has made 40 trips to Southern Africa since being transferred from South Africa to North America by the Anglo American Corporation/De Beers group in the 1970’s.




THE PROGRAM

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PART A – “Bantus, Boers & Brits”

Johannesburg & Pretoria (province of Gauteng)

Union Buildings, Pretoria

The natural landscape around Johannesburg gives no hint as to why the most important business centre on the African continent should be here. It is only the "mine dumps", the residue of deep underground mining, that gives the game away. The richest gold deposits in the world were the reason for the existence of Johannesburg, and while today gold is far less important in the economic life of South Africa, its legacy lives on in this thriving metropolis that remains the commercial capital of the country. As an essential element to understanding the foundation and the challenges of today’s South Africa, we have organized a three night program.

Day 1. You should plan on arriving in Johannesburg on or before the 14th of February. As most of you will have come a long distance, we view that first day as one of relaxation and recovery from your travels. For those not wishing to sleep, swim or play tennis, we will happily arrange a brief tour of the city. There will be a casual supper at the hotel. We will be staying at the The Residence, a boutique Hotel set in gardens in Houghton, the area of Johannesburg represented in parliament for 36 years by the redoubtable Helen Suzman.

Day 2. The next day we will visit the capital city, Pretoria, seeing the Voortrekker Monument, the Union Buildings (the seat of Government) and the Cullinan Diamond Mine, the source of the largest gem diamond in the world as well as a number of the other diamonds in the British Crown Jewels. That evening we will have a dinner with some notable South Africans, most likely including some with involvement in De Beers.

Day 3. The following day we will visit the Brenthurst Library, created by Harry Oppenheimer to house, inter alia, his collection of “Africana”, and will visit the remarkable gardens as well. After lunch, we will visit the Apartheid Museum, and/or the Hector Peterson Museum in Soweto. For those who have already visited these places in earlier travels with us, there will be a separate tour to the new “Museum Africa”, and to the “Credo Mutwa” Cultural Village and the Oppenheimer Tower in Soweto. The evening may include a play at the historic “Market Theatre”.


Kwa Zulu-Natal

Day 4. Called “The Garden Province” for its extensive flora, this is certainly one of the most scenic parts of South Africa. We will drive there through the flat farmlands of the Gauteng and Free State highveld until the northern reaches of the Drakensberg mountains come into view. We will have lunch at Ladysmith, famous for its siege during the Second Anglo-Boer War, and take advantage of visiting the local museum.

After that we will go to the Three Trees Lodge at Spioenkop for two nights. Owned by Simon and Cheryl Blackburn who have many years of experience in lodge and wildlife management, this is a small lodge that captures the ambiance of the Victorian era that was of such significance to the history of the area.

Day 5. The next day, we can go Rhino Tracking on foot in the adjacent Reserve or visit the Spioenkop Anglo-Boer War Battlefield with Simon, or just go for walks on the farm or use the mountain bikes. If their schedule permits, we may go to attend a concert of the famous Drakensberg Boys Choir.

Gandhi in Boer War

Day 6. We can spend this morning horse-riding or hiking or bird-watching on the property, have a light lunch at the lodge and then go to Ladysmith to take a private aircraft to the northern coastal reaches of the Province, to a landing strip in Northern Zululand from which we will be transported in 4 wheel drive vehicles to Kosi Forest Lodge, a past favourite. The five interlocking lakes of the Kosi Bay area represent an unique and fascinating ecological site. Our accommodation in separate huts, complete with exterior shower and tub, will remind you that you are in Africa! That evening we will dine under the stars, and hope to catch a glimpse of an adorable bush baby in the trees, and enjoy some local entertainment.

 

"…FIVE INTERLOCKING LAKES

                   OF THE KOSI BAY…"

Kosi Lake Hippos

      AMONG
                             AFRICAN
                                                        WILDLIFE

Day 7. After a hearty breakfast the next morning, we will head off to the nearest lake and take a shallow-bottomed covered boat through the lake system as far as time allows, taking a close look at the Raffia forest, wallowing hippos and soaring Fish Eagles, and marveling at the ancient fishing traps still used by local fisherman. We might have to get into the crystal clear water to lessen the draught, to allow the boat to pass over the sometimes shallow crossings between the lakes. We will take a picnic lunch with us to enjoy this idyll as long as possible. The following morning we might do a little canoeing or a stroll through the amazing Raffia forest before lunch, and after lunch, we will once again get into 4-wheel drive vehicles and head off for the real wildlife!

An Aggressive Elephant


You will awake around 5 am on Day 8 for the morning game drive, returning for breakfast. Afterwards, there is total relaxation around the pool, or elsewhere, until a light lunch. The afternoon game drive starts around 5h30 pm, and lasts approximately 3 hours, which includes “Sundowners” in the bush as the sun is setting. Returning to the lodge, dinner is taken either at the lodge or in the “Boma”, the traditional outdoor dining around a camp fire in a structure protected from wild animals. 

Days 8, 9, & 10. For the next three days, we will luxuriate among the best of Africa’s wildlife, either at the Phinda Reserve (AndBeyond’s first property) or at the Amakhosi Reserve. These two reserves are not too far apart, and both provide a fabulous wildlife experience. Once inside the reserve all movement is by Land Rover, or on foot accompanied by an armed ranger. This is one of the finest wildlife places in the country.

Cheetah Roadblock

Day 11. We depart our Game Lodge after breakfast and drive to Durban, past sugar cane fields and sub-tropical vegetation. We will stop en-route for a lunch before arriving at Umhlanga Rocks, just north of Durban, where we will be staying at The Oyster Box, a famous Five Star hotel overlooking the Indian Ocean. After a stroll along the beach, a fresh seafood dinner will be the perfect topper.

Day 12. The next day we will visit the City of Durban in the morning – the sea front, the port, possibly the Shark Research Institute, and the Bird Sanctuary before having lunch at the Durban Country Club, the site of more South African Open Golf Tournaments than any other location. In the afternoon, we may visit the Indian community’s Phoenix Settlement, created by Mahatma Ghandi. That evening there will be a dinner with invited guests so that you can learn more about the Province of Kwa Zulu-Natal.

Durban’s "Golden Mile"

Day 13. We will take a morning flight to George, in the east of the Western Cape Province. Any guests departing for international destinations will fly to Johannesburg in the afternoon for their return international flights.

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PART B – “The Cape and Kimberlite”

“The Garden Route”

Day 13 – cont’d. On this Thursday, we will arrive in the morning at George, Western Cape, joined by any new guests arriving from Johannesburg. We drive through the magnificent coastal scenery to Lunch at Kurland Country House, our home for the next three days. This lovely old estate has the enticing patina of a different era, but with all of the comforts of today. Owned by Peter Behr and his family, which has owned it for more than a century, it is only 20 km from Plettenberg Bay, and close to the Tsitsikama Forest National Park. That first afternoon, we will take a walk around the estate and visit the polo grounds.

Kurland Polo Clubhouse


Day 14. The next morning, it’s animals and birds: the world’s largest single dome free flight bird aviary, is a dramatic environment to see an amazing bird collection. The aviary is open for us to roam around, without guides!


PRIMATE PARK

Nearby is the primate park of more than 500 apes and lemurs, seen up close in their forest environment; you can expect to see a variety of primates, including the Gibbons of Asia and the Lemurs of Madagascar. The knowledgeable rangers will tell you about these fascinating mammals as you encounter them roaming free in the forest.

Not Your Average Ape


After all of this fauna, we will head to Lunch at the farm of an artisanal cheese producer. After lunch, we will visit the Tsitsikama Forest – forest walk for the animal and bird lovers, and bungee jumping for the adventurous (at the World’s Highest Commercial Bungy Jump – a whopping 216m)! 

After returning to Kurland, we will drive to dinner at an exceptional location near Plettenberg Bay – Zinzi restaurant at the architecturally stunning Tsala Country House, before returning to Kurland for the night.

Day 15. The morning will be devoted to exploring Plettenberg Bay and its beaches and shops. Lunch at The Outlook restaurant overlooking the Indian Ocean will convey the beauty of the coast. After lunch, we anticipate spending time watching a Polo Match at Kurland, where we will enjoy a final dinner.

Day 16. We will drive the 45 minutes to Knysna, one of the jewels of the Garden Route and the “Oyster Capital of the World” with its beautiful lagoon, and dramatic headlands. We will be based on the lagoon and free to take a boat ride, stroll around the shops and galleries of the waterfront of Knysna, or play golf at the renowned Pezula Golf Course with its dramatic views over the lagoon and the Indian Ocean. Staying at a curious small converted power station – The Turbine – at dinner we may sample the local oysters and other delicious seafood. The oysters are famous and might be the largest and sweetest in the world.

"The Heads" at Knysna

Day 17. Our final day on the Garden Route will take us through dramatic scenery to Outschoorn – the “Ostrich Capital of the world” where we will visit an ostrich farm, and some of the glorious scenery of the area. We will have dinner at, and spend the night at, the Rosenhof Country House Hotel.


“The Fairest Cape in all the World”

                                           -Sir Francis Drake, 1580

Day 18. On Tuesday, we will take a flight from George to Cape Town around lunchtime, where we will be conveyed to the lovely “Last Word” boutique hotel in the beautiful surrounds of Constantia. For those interested, in the afternoon we will visit the impressive National Gardens at Kirstenbosch, including the new “treetop walkway”. We will have dinner at the hotel after our return.

Robben Island, from Table Mountain

Day 19. The following day, we have the choice among visiting the stunning Cape Peninsular, or taking the cable car up Table Mountain, or taking a boat to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for so many years, and whichever option, will try to include a visit to the Rhodes Memorial (Cecil Rhodes was the founder of De Beers Consolidated Mines). Dinner at Bistro 1682 on the Steenberg Estate, or a theatre or concert, if available

Day 20. This morning is time for experiencing both some of the best wines in South Africa and the historic vineyards where they have been produced for more than four centuries. These will include some of Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, or Buitenverwachting. After lunch at a vineyard, we will visit the city centre to see the Parliament, the Gold Museum, and/or the Old Biscuit Mill (the renovated eclectic fashion centre of Cape Town). Dinner will be at “La Colombe” in Constantia, one of Cape Town’s best restaurants.

Experience the wine estate, Groot Constantia

Day 21. The next morning is available for more visits before we leave, with much reluctance, the “Mother City,” and fly in the early afternoon to Kimberley. Kimberley is in the middle of the country, where diamonds were discovered in 1870 on the farm of Mr. de Beer, creating a diamond rush and sparking avarice in the minds of British imperialists. The town has had a tempestuous history, including being besieged during the Anglo-Boer War. We will stay at the historic Kimberley Club of which Cecil Rhodes was one of the founders. We hope to have a senior De Beers manager join us for dinner.

Day 22. On Saturday, we will visit the Famous “Big Hole” and the Kimberley Mine and Museum in the morning and, f time permits, visit the Anglo Boer War monuments and Battlefield, before flying to Johannesburg where we will stay overnight at the Intercontinental Hotel at the airport

The Kimberley "Big Hole" Being Created

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PART C – “Botswana’s Gems”

The Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and the Okavanga Delta, Botswana

Victoria Falls

Day 23. We leave Johannesburg in the morning to fly to one of the world’s most dramatic sights – the legendary Victoria Falls on the Zambesi River. We will be met upon arrival at the Victoria Falls Airport, in Zimbabwe, for transfer to the River Lodge Hotel, and spend the afternoon viewing the extraordinary phenomenon that is "The Falls".

Days 24, 25, & 26. The following day, the Okavanga Delta beckons! A maze of lazy lagoons, meandering channels and overgrown islands teeming with wildlife, Botswana’s Okavango Delta lies like a sparkling jewel at the heart of the Kalahari Desert. Known as “the river that never finds the sea”, its crystal clear channels spread over the thirsty lands of the Kalahari with their papyrus-fringed banks and fertile floating islands. Adapted for a life in and out of water, the elegant antelopes – the red lechwe and shy sitatunga – are found in this watery wilderness. Lion, cheetah, leopard and African wild dog share the floodplains with large herds of elephant and buffalo. Hippo inhabit the deeper channels and lagoons, while honey badgers can be seen in broad daylight. Tall termite mounds are homes for families of dwarf and banded mongoose. Glide through the glistening waterways in a mokoro (dugout canoe), where iridescent dragonflies, frogs of every colour and jewel-like kingfishers live in the papyrus-lined banks. 593 species of birds exist in Botswana; you will see quite a few of them!

We will fly to the airstrip with the delightful name of “Pom Pom” in the middle of the Delta, where we will be picked up by the team from the AndBeyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp. "And Beyond" is one of the world’s foremost tourism conservation organisations; catering to the luxury market, it has done invaluable work in many countries in Africa and Asia. We will have 3 nights in a safari tent with en-suite bathroom, sala and private plunge pool. Your days will be devoted to seeing wild animals by land and by water, while falling under the friendly spell of the attentive and well–trained staff.

Xaranna Dock (Photo from AndBeyond)

Days 27, 28, & 29. Positioned within an exclusive 25,000 hectare wilderness concession, &Beyond Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp boasts breath-taking views out over a permanent channel of the Okavango Delta. The overall atmosphere of the Camp is light and airy in keeping with this pristine setting. The nine en-suite safari tents are organic in design with a combination of canvas and bleached timber, delicately decorated in shades of fatigue (khaki) and soft lily pink. Each tent boasts a romantic sala, private plunge pool, indoor bathtub and al fresco shower. The guest areas are all positioned carefully to maximise the sweeping views out across the channels. The intimate guest sitting area boasts a spacious reading area, perfect for afternoon relaxation. The elevated dining area features shady verandas with mesmerising views leading out onto an open air “boma”, where exotic candlelit dinners are served under the stars. A fully-stocked Safari Shop offers chic safari gear, African art and jewellery.

After three nights at Xaranna, we will return to “Pom Pom” and fly for just 15 minutes to the Chitabi airstrip to obtain a different perspective on this amazing area at the just completely rebuilt AndBeyond Sandibe Safari Lodge, an earthy yet glamorous safari lodge situated on a permanent channel of the Okavango Delta, adjacent to the Moremi Game Reserve.

 

ALWAYS A


WARM


WELCOME

Arriving at Xaranna Camp


Drawing its inspiration from nature, the lodge blends into the landscape, providing an experience that is serene, earthy and organic. Secluded plunge pools and outdoor showers in each of the fifteen suites allow guests to feel part of the forest, while private fireplaces warm the African nights once the sun goes down. Cleverly constructed indoor and outdoor lounging places create cosy nooks ideal for private dining beneath the stars. An interactive kitchen and interpretive naturalist library encourage guests to become one with the surroundings and to enjoy every aspect of the Delta experience.&Beyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge has exclusive traversing rights over 270 km2 of wilderness in a private concession, the site having been specifically chosen for its extraordinary beauty and proximity to the game-rich grassy plains. &Beyond Sandibe’s raised guest areas and suites look out onto the Santantadibe Channel, providing spectacular Okavango Delta views.

Wet Elephants (Photo from AndBeyond)

Day 30. We will fly from the Chitaba airstrip to Maun, in the centre of the country, where we will join a commercial flight to Johannesburg, There, we will doff our safari clothes, shake off the dust and burrs of the bush, and in the lovely surroundings of the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa, have a Farewell Dinner celebrating the extraordinary and unique experiences of Africa that we will have enjoyed.

The formal part of the trip ends after a hearty breakfast the next day. Most guests will be departing that evening for their international destinations.

Note that the group will consist of between 8 and 12 people, including the Doulls. We reserve the right to alter some of the above schedule where we consider it appropriate.

Unforgettable African Sunsets

For further information and pricing, please contact Adrian at: adrian@commendablerentals.com.


Note: If there is interest in a trip to Namibia following the above, we would be happy to organize that too.

Keep an eye out for or inquire further for the following future trips!

10 days in Provence – September 2015

10-14 days in Namibia – February 2016

10-14 days in Colombia (Cartagena, a National Park, Bogota, and a boat on the Amazon) – March 2016

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Discover The Tasty Side of Rome with Maureen Fant

 

There’s Italian food, and there’s Italian food. One of the best things you can do in Rome is eat like a real Roman – from buying fresh ingredients (not just a trip to the supermarket), knowing what’s in season and where and how to buy it, to cooking and of course, eating in an Italian kitchen.

That’s why we were really excited to meet Maureen Fant. Not only can you follow Maureen, a Roman local for over 35 years, to the best markets and shops for all the best ingredients from artichokes to pecorino cheese, she leads you on a fantastic journey from grocery bags to the delicious finale.

Maureen’s love of Rome began with her studies in Roman classical archeology and flourished into writing, lectures, and living the life of a Roman. With a love of Italian food, Maureen’s archaeological beginnings morphed together with an emphasis on food, making her a wonderful source of information on Roman food and Rome itself.

You won’t just be eating in any Italian kitchen; Maureen is a notable food writer, especially of Roman cuisine, with fantastic knowledge and experience, and a passion to share the story of food.

Starting with a casual walk around Rome’s dynamic markets, Maureen will offer tidbits on local produce and offerings and help you discover all you wanted to know about Roman food. 

Maureen’s love of Roman food and cooking offers a chance to really tantalize your tastebuds and learn what Roman food is all about.



In a very special,offer, we are pleased to share that a Private Food Tour with Maureen can now be reserved by guests who book with Commendable Rentals. Delight your senses, discover Rome, gain tips from an expert insider who can truly share what you never knew about Roman food. 

Casual, yet informative, Maureen is all about taking you on an inside peek of what a typical (and yet so fantastically Italian) day of preparing a genuine Roman meal with her entails. With no set menu, Maureen will guide the day based on seasonal offerings, suggestions, and special attention to your interests and discovery of new food. Get to know Rome, through food!

AND NOW EVEN BETTER..

We’d like everyone to come away from a day with Maureen with even more than tasty memories. We have a limited time offer those guests who book a Rome rental together with one of Maureen’s incredible food tours through Commendable Rentals, a FREE copy of her book as a memento!

Co-author Maureen Fant’s new book, Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way, is a must-have guide to genuine Italian sauces and the very important harmony of complementing pasta. This is a 35 euro value that you’ll not only enjoy, but can use for years to come!

Discover the tasty side of Rome with Maureen! 

Ask us about booking a tasty tour today!

 

 

Everybody loves food. Spread the joy and share this with your friends!

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Berlin in the Fall

Autumn: the Perfect Time to Visit Berlin

 

Why Berlin?

Whether it’s Old-world charm you’re looking for, a vibrant art-scene,  or exciting night-life, you will find it all in Berlin

Why now?

Fall weather is ideal for everything Berlin has to offer—whether it is an afternoon of people watching at a café, a stroll through one of the city’s many parks – Berlin is a Green city – or  a day of Gallery and Museum hopping  to take in the active art scene.

For classical music lovers, during two weeks every September, world-renowned classical musicians and conductors converge on the city during Musikfest Berlin. Nightlife you seek? Well, no trip to Berlin would be complete without an evening at Friedrichstadt Palast, Germany’s leading theatre, and Europe’s hottest show palace!

                      

Ready to book your flight?

There is no better place to rest your head at night than the luxurious Palacina Residence apartments, centrally located in the historic district of Schöneberg. Whether it’s the famous Potsdamer Platz you’d like to see or you’re ready for an evening of shopping at the famous Kadewe department store, located amongst a variety of restaurants at the famous Kurfürstendamm Avenue, a brisk 15 minute walk or 5 minute ride on the public transport will get you there! We are so exited to be able to offer this great Berlin choice. 

    

                            

You can choose from of 1, 2, and 3 bedroom apartments to suit your needs. Whether you’re searching for a Romantic Getaway, a Family Holiday, or a fun outing with close friends, you will experience Berlin at its best, enjoying the sophistication of a top hotel while feeling completely at home in  the comfort of spacious apartments designed to offer the best of the city’s Old-world allure with its modern-chic reputation as one of Europe’s trendiest cities.


Namibia

   A Commendable Tour

of Namibia     

1 – 14 March, 2014


 

      Learn about this extraordinary land, its people, its flora, its fauna.

 

 

Namibia is an awesome land, rough and desolate, but incredibly beautiful, in its vast, moon-like landscapes and endless horizons. It is a photographer’s dreamland, a land of contrasts and earthy colours. It is not the place for those who like bustling beaches and the social whirl, but for those who are drawn to nature, stillness, the romance of the grandiose landscape, and vast expanses. Namibia, is one of the least populated countries on earth for good reason. Survival is difficult for plants and animals; for man and beast. Survival is for the fittest and depends on adaptation to this arid environment, to all the tricks that nature can throw. Because of its barren coastline, Namibia was one of the last parts of Africa to be colonized by Europeans. In 1883 a German merchant and adventurer, Adolf Luederitz from Bremen, bought the Bay of Angra Pequeña from Nama Chief Joseph Fredericks from Bethanien. He also bought the area in a 20 mile radius around the bay. 

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The trip starts and ends in Windhoek, the Capital. Most international access to Namibia is via Johannesburg, although Air Namibia flies to and from Frankfurt. Our first event is a Welcome dinner on 1 March, followed by a good night’s sleep in preparation for the trip to come. After Windhoek we will visit:

  • the major wildlife area at Etosha National Park
  • the remote north east of the country along the border with Angola
  • the fabled Skeleton Coast
  • the NamibRand desert area with its amazing Dunes

Windhoek

With 250,000 inhabitants, Namibia’s capital is the largest city in the country and sits at an altitude of 1650 meters in a beautiful valley. Once there, we will be staying at the Olive Grove, a small boutique hotel.  We may have the opportunity to visit the sights of Windhoek before dinner. Much of the town’s interesting architecture dates back to German colonial rule. Places to visit include the “Tintenpalast” (“Ink Palace”), which houses Namibia’s parliament, the Christuskirche (Christ Church) of the Lutheran parish from the year 1896, the “Reiterdenkmal” from 1912 and the “Alte Feste” (Old Fort); former headquarters of the Schutztruppe and today, Namibia’s National Museum. Since 1997, the monumental Supreme Court building has overshadowed the historical buildings of Windhoek.

 

Giraffes on the Etosha Pan

 

 Etosha

On 2 March we will board a private aircraft for a 1½ hour flight to the area of the Etosha National Park, one of Southern Africa’s finest and most important Game Reserves. Etosha Game Park, covers an area of 22 270 square km, and was declared a National Park in 1907. If you like either statistics or animals, it is home to 114 mammal species, 340 bird species, 110 reptile species, 16 amphibian species and, as is much quoted “only one species of fish”, which no one seems to be able to identify.

We will spend three nights here, staying at the Mushara Outpost, 10 km from the gate of the Park, and one of a number of lodges on the property owned by Marc and Mariza Pampe, and managed exceptionally well by an all-female team. The
accommodation was designed and constructed with a unique combination of canvas, wood and glass. Each room has large glass windows and the doors slide open onto a private deck, offering superb views of the surrounding bush. The en-suite bathroom includes a shower with glass walls from floor to ceiling. A room with a view, bringing the outdoors inside!

Mushara Outpost, Etosha

 “Etosha”, meaning “Great White Place”, is dominated by a massive mineral pan. The Etosha Pan covers around 25% of the National Park and was originally a lake fed by the Kunene River. The course of the river changed thousands of years ago and the lake dried up so that the pan now is a large dusty depression of salt and dusty clay, filling only if the rains are heavy and even then holding water for a short time. The crystallized salt left behind from the waters shimmers in the sun and gives it it’s famous, eerie beauty. Temporary water in the Pans attracts thousands of wading birds, including impressive flocks of pink flamingos, while the perennial springs along the edges of the Etosha Pan may draw large concentrations of wildlife, including zebra, elephants, giraffe, as well as birds.Visitors to Etosha Game Reserve can expect to see many species of birds, plus buck, elephant, giraffe, rhino and lions. Fortunate visitors will also see leopard and cheetah. Our time will be spent on early morning and late afternoon game drives, and otherwise on bush walks or lazing around the pool.

 

The Far Northwest

 

Serra Cafema – dine overlooking the Kunene River

After 3 nights at Etosha, we move to the extreme north-west of Namibia on the banks of the Kunene River. Undoubtedly amongst the most remote camps in Southern Africa, Serra Cafema is only reachable by light aircraft. The Kunene River creates a lush oasis along its banks – a winding band of green surrounded by the lunar like landscape of the Namib Desert. Rapids just below camp provide a calming ambiance after a day exploring one of the driest, starkly beautiful regions in the world.

Accommodation at Serra Cafema consists of 8 riverside Meru-style canvas and thatched villas on spacious, elevated decks blended smoothly into the picturesque surroundings. The Serra Cafema Ozonganda, or main area, comprises indoor and outdoor dining areas, sunken lounge, library, curio shop and swimming pool, all sharing views of the Kunene River.

Activities at Serra Cafema revolve around the exploration of surrounding Namib Desert sands and the lush oases along the river, a journey of contrasts. Informative nature drives and carefully guided quad bike excursions through the fragile dunes allow guests to experience the true Namib in its unbridled glory. The utmost care is taken to tread lightly on the dunes and preserve the unique and delicate habitats of this landscape. Boating on the Kunene River provides guests with the opportunity to venture through the lush riverside oases. Crocodiles and waterbirds seem out of place in this surreal, lunar-like landscape. Walking in the remote mountain and river valleys is also a highlight, as is a visit to a Himba settlement – one of the last true nomadic people in Africa.

The Skeleton Coast

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

GIraffes – Skeleton Coast National Park

We then fly to the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, which is located on the Hoanib River in the northern part of the private Palmwag Concession. Its location thus straddles the Palmwag area and Skeleton Coast National Park, in one of the most remote areas of the Kaokoveld. A land of rugged scenery, the area has a historic coastline, mountains, vast plains, and dry riverbeds inhabited by incredible desert-adapted plant and animal life. Despite the arid environs, one of the greatest concentrations of desert-adapted elephant and lion can be found within this extraordinary area – along with sightings of giraffe, antelope, black rhino, leopard and cheetah.

Exclusivity is taken a step further as the camp comprises only seven twin-bedded tents and one family unit. The camp looks out over the stunning rugged scenery and offers guests all the luxuries and amenities needed for an unforgettable stay.

In this bewitching and splendid part of the planet, guests can unravel the enigmatic history of the original Strandlopers (Beachcombers), their stone circles lying in hidden valleys, studying the ancient Welwitschia plant, stalking the great herds, or savouring the endless landscapes unfolding – untouched – for hundreds of kilometres. Activities include nature walks, game drives, dune drives, use of hides, exploratory day excursions with picnic lunches and coastal visits exposing the astonishing desert-adapted wildlife, plants and birdlife of the area.

Namibrand Nature Reserve

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

Sossusvlei Sand Dunes


On 9 March we will fly to the remarkable Sossusvlei Desert Lodge for two nights, owned and operated by the “&Beyond” Group. Thanks to conservation efforts, the NamibRand spans 180 000 hectares (445000 acres) of pristine desert wilderness, and is the largest private nature reserve in Southern Africa. In the language of the Nama people of Namibia, the word ‘Sossus’ means a place where water collects. The word ‘vlei’ is an Afrikaans word meaning a depression where water collects. Loosely translated, Sossusvlei means ‘the place where water collects’.


The Namib – known as ‘The Living Desert’ – is a world of vast space, endless horizons of red sand , dramatic desert-scapes and jagged mountain heights. Led by Sossusvlei’s expert rangers and naturalists, we explore the desert by quadbikes (allterrain four-wheeled motorcycles) or open 4×4 vehicles. An all day excursion to the famous Sossusvlei sand dunes, the highest in the world, and Sesriem Canyon will add to this unforgettable desert-safari experience…


This is sophistication in the Namib Desert: The lodge is renowned for its luxurious 10 spacious air-conditioned villas set at the foot of a mountain overlooking the stark, yet beautiful Namib Desert. Designed to capture the splendour and solitude of the desert, each stone and glass desert villa is set along the curve of the escarpment, affording absolute privacy. Each villa features a shaded private veranda, split-level bedroom and living room with fireplace, fully-stocked personal bar, compact spotting scope and a service-intercom to the main lodge. 

The split-level main lodge features a fire-lit bar, comfortable sitting room, mezzanine library with CD and book collection, swimming pool, wraparound verandas and African gift shop. The pool is fed by water from an underground spring. At sunset, animals are drawn to a nearby waterhole, providing added enjoyment to a sundowner drink.

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

 

Wolwedans Dunes Lodge

 The Dunes Lodge is perched on top of a dune plateau, overlooking panoramic vistas in all directions and capturing the beauty of the desert in a most memorable way.

Our final 3 nights will be spent at this remarkable lodge perched on top of a dune plateau, overlooking panoramic vistas in all directions and capturing the beauty of the desert in a most memorable way.

This spectacular location comes with all the creature comforts including crisp white sheets, warm down duvets for those chilly desert nights and solar-heated hot showers after a long drive in the great beyond. The camp was constructed using poles, elevated wooden decks and roll-up canvas walls and are driven solely by solar power – ensuring a very light environmental footprint on the pristine desert ecology.

The building style is a combination of wooden structures and canvas blinds, opening up to the desert beyond. The lodge reflects the ambience of a tented camp, but provides the comfort and protection of a permanent building. Each of the nine spacious chalets with en-suite bathrooms has a private verandah, which connects you to vast stretches of untouched sand. Sleeping with your canvas blinds open is just like sleeping under the stars. The main complex consists of two lounges, a number of sundowner decks, a fireplace, a tea deck, a library, the wine cellar and two dining rooms. The lodge also has a swimming pool, which is suspended above the sand. All communal areas of the lodge open out onto decks with superb views.

Sundowner drives are approximately 1-2 hours long, traveling about 10 km into the dunes, where evening drinks will be served while you enjoy the magnificent desert sunset. The return drive to the camp/lodge takes place in the dark, where our desert chefs have prepared a sumptuous four-course dinner for you. Dinners involve elegant table settings, candlelight and exuberant menu announcements in the local Nama language, wholesome and sophisticated ‘bush-cuisine’, prepared lovingly with homegrown organic fresh produce and paired with excellent local and South African wines.

Morning or afternoon drives cover a distance of about 40-50 km and take 3-4 hours. Afternoon scenic drives are often combined with sundowners in the dunes.

On the 14 March, sadly we will have to leave this last of our fascinating Namibian sojourns. Our plane will take us in the morning to Windhoek to enable connections to our international destinations.

Wolwedans provides the perfect base from which to explore vast stretches of undisturbed nature. Informative scenic drives in open Land rovers reveal the wonders of the wilderness.

 

 

 


European Holiday Rental Professionals Seminar hosted VRMA

Susan Doull, Commendable Rentals founder, is to speak at the inaugural European Holiday Rental Professionals Seminar hosted by the Vacation Rental Managers Association

Susan has been selected to speak at the upcoming inaugural Holiday Rental Professionals Seminar hosted by the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA), 4-5 December 2012 at the Barceló Atenea Mar Hotel in Barcelona, Spain. “The holiday rental industry is evolving, and this event will bring together, for the first time, holiday rental professionals from across Europe and beyond who are at the leading edge of the industry,” Susan said. “It is an honour to have been selected to speak at this event, and I look forward to sharing the experiences that we’ve had at Commendable Rentals ". 

There will also be sessions by noted industry figures, Javier Delgado Muerza of Google Travel on “Internet & the Digital Era” and by Jordi Schoenenberger of Deloitte on the outlook of the European travel industry. Concurrent session speakers from a half-dozen countries will cover a variety of other subjects. The event promises to offer un-matched business and educational tools to help vacation rental managers deliver superior guest and homeowner experienceA committee of industry leaders from around the globe selected her because of her expertise in the vacation rentals industry. Susan, who has been in the tourism, hospitality, and the holiday rental industry for 25 years, will present a session entitled, “Dealing with Complaints in the Age of Internet Reviews”. This session will focus on the practical issues involved in both avoiding, and responding to, complaints.

 

To learn more or to register for the 2012 Holiday Rental Professionals Seminar, visit www.vrma.com.

 

About Susan Doull 

ABOUT Commendable Rentals : Created in 2005 to market internationally, privately-owned attractive properties in Italy, Commendable Rentals’ has grown consistently ever since. That growth has been almost entirely due to word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied owners and from happy travellers. In 2010, the company began to include a limited number of boutique hotels and lodges which it considers complimentary to its rental properties. Today, Commendable Rentals markets some 50 properties in Italy, France, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, the USA and South Africa, all of which have been visited. Commendable Rentals only deals with properties of character in both major cities and rural areas, provides a up to date marketing effort for the owners of the properties, and seeks to develop long term relationships with the renters of the properties.

 

 

ABOUT VRMA: Founded in 1985, the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA) is an international, professional trade association of the vacation rental property management and hospitality industries. Membership includes hundreds of professional holiday rental manager and supplier members representing tens of thousands of holiday rentals. 

For more information on the conference visit www.vrma.com or contact Jill Curtis, Director of Membership in the U.S. by phone at +1 (317) 454-8315 or email membership@vrma.com.

 

 


Zanzibar!

  Zanzibar! 

Greetings from highest Africa! That is, from a jet; we are returning from Zanzibar to Johannesburg, flying over Mozambique mountains that peak through clouds, large lakes, and meandering rivers (probably filled with crocs). It looks like fertile exploration ground for a future trip. But for now we are excited about Zanzibar where we have just spent a few beautiful days, exploring Stone Town, the countryside and it’s paradisiac seaside with some of the most beautiful beaches and azure waters anywhere. We were inspecting boutique hotels and lodges for the Commendable Collection and putting together a program for a small group for February 2013, as well as for independent travellers seeking our aid. Zanzibar is a spectacular and lush tropical island set in pale aqua waters, but that is not all. Unlike so many islands designed only for lazing, this one is fascinating. Its history is intertwined with the Sultans of Oman, harems, Arab Princesses, merchants from India, colonisers from Portugal, Germany and England, greedy Slave Traders, English explorers, like Stanley and Livingstone, and the Spice trade, all making a spicy mix indeed. Zanzibar was already a thriving commercial centre in the middle ages and flourished in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Seyyid Said bin Sultan, the 19th-century sultan of Oman, made Zanzibar his home and the capital of the Omani Empire in the early 1800’s He built magnificent palaces in and outside Stone Town and instilled Muslim traditions, while the clove, ivory, and slave trades made Zanzibar rich. 

Stone Town, as the Capital city and also an Unesco World Heritage site, is definitely worth a visit. Its architecture dates back to before middle ages (it s earliest visitors came in 150 AD), when its Swahili civilisation  merged with visiting traders and pirates from India, Arabia, Persia and China, criss-crossing the Indian Ocean, bringing metal tools, weapons, and jewellery, and departing with heart-breaking quantities of ivory tusks, tortoise shell, and captured human cargo to be sold as slaves. Zanzibar’s name is derived from the Arab Zinj el Barr, or “Land of Black People”. The African people of the coast intermixed with the visitors creating a distinct Swahili society of language arts, and culture. Swahili is today’s official language.

Stone Town reflects this mixture of cultures. Stroll its rather chaotic streets, and see coral and stone houses, with intricately carved wooden doors with script from the Quran, and others studded with pointed brass from India, historically used to fend off elephants. Internal courtyards, and high balconies were part of the Arab tradition.

In Stone Town we received a wonderfully warm welcome at Jafferji House, a recently restored boutique hotel that is deliciously romantic, yet luxurious, taking us back to the 1001 Arabian nights, with antique Sultan’s beds, sensual reds, oranges, and earth colours on its plastered walls, mahogany carvings, brass lanterns internal courtyards, and exotic bathrooms with large sunken tubs. The owner, Javid Jafferji, is a famous photographer and his photographs offer an artistic and anthropologic lesson. We stayed in the bedroom named for Princess Salme, the daughter of Seyyis Said, which delighted us, as we had just finished reading an excellent account of the history of Zanzibar, The Sultan’s Shadow by Christiane Bird, in which her fascinating and somewhat tragic story featured significantly. If you want an authentic Zanzibar experience, this is the place. 
Then we were spoiled royally at three magnificent beach-side resorts, Breezes, Bazara and The Palms, all part of the "Zanzibar Collection". Our time was spent strolling indolently along beaches of fine white powdered sand, and enjoying spas suitable for Sultans. We also visited a local village, its children, and its schools, a , mangrove swamp, and a rare habitat of red Colobus Monkeys who delighted us at close range. 

On arrival at Breezes we were offered a fresh coconut to sip with a straw, and were led to see the beach, which is beautiful indeed, but so was the surprise that awaited us. Under a palm frond canopied table set for lunch just some meters from the sea, we sat with our feet in the sand and feasted on fresh grilled fish and lobster and perfectly chilled white wine.

Zanzibar Cuisine: Throughout our stay, we were delighted by the abundant seafood and fresh local fruits, blended with the pungent perfumes of Zanzibar’s famed spices, amongst them clove, ginger, cardamom, lemon-grass, punctuated with the flavour of fresh coconut milk and curry. Lobster in Zanzibar is plentiful and served grilled in the company of prawns and local fish, but we were treated to a cooking lesson by Chef Alan of the Bazara Lodge and learned his recipe for Bahari Lobster, i.e. Zanzibar style. After we watched, we lunched by the sea on this local lobster sautéed with cumin, ginger, julienne of courgette, and blended with fresh coriander and coconut milk. It was served with spicy Zanzibar rice and accompanied by crisp South African Sauvignon Blanc. This was definitely a 10 out of 10 experience.

 More about The Palms and Zanzibar will be coming soon. For immediate information contact: susan@commendablerentals.com at Commendablerentals.com

Susan Doull, 22 May 2012

 

 

 


Ski Time Pleasures, Chalet Treasures

Kloster's Chalet l'Ours

Ski Time Pleasures,  Chalet Treasures  

             ……..  Rediscovering Klosters

 

I have to confess that I am a ski addict and have been since I first buckled into a pair of skis some unnamed years ago. When the first snow comes, I want to tone-up, pack-up and head for one of my favorite mountains.

This year I rediscovered an old friend, Klosters, in Switzerland.The quality of the mountain infrastructure, its lifts, its ski terrain, its snow should put it at the top of anyone’s list as a great ski spot. Klosters earns top marks with its kilometers of pistes and trails, and its endless off-piste possibilities, and its breath-taking high mountain scenery that makes the Alps such a sought-after destination. But Klosters has so much more.

Klosters is a that rare Alpine location where traditional alpine charm, privacy if you want it, a village ambiance, great food, and night life, plus fantastic skiing all come together. The snow this year is extraordinary. Think 5 meters! The variety and extent of the ski terrain is truly stupendous. You will find many days of opportunities for sedate skiers looking for some sun and lunch along with some fresh air and exercise. But there is also plenty of truly challenging off-piste adventures for the experts, who ski anywhere at anytime! We skied with some of those experts, in the company of local ski guides who exchange their summer farming activities for this more sporty and social pastime. The guides were interesting characters themselves, entertaining and of course, so impressive not only in their skiing, but in their knowledge of where every tree and rock might be lurking, and as important, where a cosy restaurant could be found at lunch time !

We skied fast,carving racing turns with Kurt to lunch at the Gotschna Restaurant at Serneus and slightly,frightening powder runs through the trees with Georg to the restaurant at the Parssen Hotel near Kublis. These are charming eateries, thoroughly comfortable and atmospheric family-run places with delicious food. It is understandable that Klosters is and has been a preferred site for European royalty. However, habitués William and Kate were not spotted on this trip.

There is a vibrant social life at Klosters, even in the low season mid-January weeks. We went to see flood-lit Polo in the Snow. Dressed in warm coats, we found flowing champagne and delicious food in a heated tent added to the pleasure ! We enjoyed dinner at the “Wynegg”, a Klosters’s standby with a great Vegetarian platter for non-meat eaters), and typical Austrian dishes, like schnitzel for carnivores. Another night, we ate at the Alpenrosli, which requires a serious taxi drive up the mountain, but results in a gorgeous view over the village. We abstained from sledding down the mountain after dinner – an activity we had undertaken in earlier, less prudent years!

However the highlight of our evenings was dinner at Chalet l’Ours as the guests of its charming and talented owner. She has created what must be one of the most beautiful and delightful private chalets in the Alps, (and its available to rent, fully staffed, to families and small groups, through CommendableRentals. Though steps from the center of Klosters, we enter through a Lantern-lit, snow flanked passage. The chalet offers four luxurious bedrooms, with large, beautiful bathrooms, and inviting details, like fur coverlets. We were charmed. Despite the fascinating guests, one’s eyes could not resist wandering to observe the countless little touches that only someone with talent and taste would have imagined. With knotty-pine paneling throughout, cozy fires, and a delicious dinner cooked and served by the chalet staff, it was a truly luxurious Alpine experience. Dinner started with Champagne and “amuse-bouche” Thai Prawns and a crème of cauliflower and truffles served in front of the fire, and continued to a beautifully laid dining table with candle-lit and picture windows displaying the snowy mountain landscape. The chef was truly talented, and the dinner perfect. 

Situated on a slope that is in the town, Chalet l’Ours,with its dark wood and red-shuttered exterior, has lovely views over the Klosters village and valley, and is just minutes walk from the Gotschna Cable Car. The Chalet is available for rent; it is difficult to imagine a better place anywhere in the Alps. See it now in the CommendableRentals portfolio.

On our last day we were able to see another of the very few private chalet rentals available in Klosters – the Chalet Marmot. This too has been lovingly decorated in an alpine idiom, and is the perfect spot for a large extended family or a group of friends, as it sleeps up to 11. We are very pleased that this too will soon be in the CommendableRentals portfolio.

20 January, 2102, Susan Doull, 


 

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