[SKOURA, MOROCCO] — After a long, bumpy slog over the Atlas Mountains from Marrakesh, I got out of the dusty Mercedes van in an indiscriminate parking lot outside a great mud-walled compound. Walls up to the sky. This is it? I wondered under my breath. This is the place I’ve heard so much about? And then, with silent porters in linen tunics grabbing my bags, a great wooden door opened from the thick walls. A donkey groaned downed by the road we just passed. “Hello, my name is Florent. You can call me Flo.” a slight, chicly-dressed young Frenchman with up-turned collar addressed me. Peeking inside, everything became clear. “Oh, this is it. This is definitely it.” I follow Flo through the thick
[MOLTIG-LES-BAINS, FRANCE] — So, here I was last April sitting in Skoura, an oasis town in Morocco, and I had to make a choice. Fed up with my stupid job, I’d quit and left for a little sabbatical for a month in Portugal and Morocco. My plane to the States left the next day, but I wasn’t ready to go back. So I cancelled it. I flew back to Barcelona, walked up to the Hertz desk and asked “Can I rent a car for a long time? Like two months?” “Si!” So they hooked me up with a sweet little upgraded BMV and I headed towards the Pyrénées. I had no plans, no goals; just no big cities, only small towns. Places I’d never been. My compass
[MARRAKESH, MOROCCO] — It was midnight on a full moon in Marrakesh. A late flight from Barcelona after transferring from Casablanca. The driver pulls over on a very busy, unremarkable street, next to a gas station, an LP gas depot and about the world’s most frenetic bus stop and taxi stand, drivers wailing and waving, engines gunning. Everyone looked to be in charge. Buses, trucks and loud scooters screamed by, drowning out the shouts of the cab stand. The van stopped in the middle of the street and the door swung open. A nondescript wood door lay before me; no sign, no grand entrance, just two guys in muted brown tunics. “This is it?” I asked. “It’s Marrakesh, there’s always a surprise behind the doors.
[RAVELLO, ITALY] –– Years ago I finally realized what I really like: cliffs, overlooking a distant ocean, preferably with a pool clinging to a steep hillside. From then on, it’s been my focus on choosing where I go on vacation. (You’ll see this as a common theme throughout this site!) Palazzo Avino fits all of those criteria. Plus, small, quiet and really expensive. After a recent remodel, it is on almost every Top Ten list of all hotels in the world. They have some rock star-great rooms and terraces, with prices to match. Sitting high on a hilltop in Ravello, dubbed one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, sits Palazzo Avino. When I was there in ’04 it was called Palazzo Sasso, also famous in its own right.
[POSITANO, ITALY] — If you’ve never been to Le Sirenuse in Positano, put it on your list. One of the best, and best-run, hotels in the world. Nothing compares to sitting in the grandstands (the pool) overlooking one of the prettiest views in the world. A cascade of villas, hotels and restaurants tumbling down to the sea. That’s why it is #1 on my World’s Best Pools List. And why the hotel itself is at the 🔝 of nearly every World’s Best list and if they shoot a movie in Amalfi, it’s usually here. Pinch me. Nothing can beat the style of this hotel, or location, hanging on the edge of a cliff with all those pretty houses climbing up the hills. It is on nearly every