Category Archives: Travel

Tortuga Bay, 2006

Palm trees, white sand beaches and turquoise sea

Tortuga Bay Hotel, endowed with miles of stunning, white-sand beaches on the eastern shores of the Dominican Republic, is poised to become a favored retreat for those seeking the truly exceptional. Their commitment to service begins when you arrive at Punta Cana Airport, the world’s only privately built and owned international airport, where you are greeted, whisked through immigration, your bags are collected and you are on a private shuttle. Ten minutes later your personal villa manager is helping you settle in. Responsible for just two villas, he remains just a page away. The attractive staff is genuine and generous with their time and attention, a reflection of the dedication and vision of co-founder and president, Frank Rainieri. His love affair with this land and his devotion to responsible stewardship is manifested throughout the 15,000 acres under his watch.

Frank Rainieri and Tom Buhl at La Yola

While impressive development continues, guests can feel the care taken to do it the right way rather rampant building for the sake of having rooms to fill. Creating their own international airport, partnering with Cornell University on a 1,500-acre ecological research park and providing a K through 12th grade bi-lingual school are just a few symbols of the thought and consideration at work here. Characteristically, the school’s tuition is based on salary, so that sons and daughters of housekeeping attend classes with the founder’s grandchildren.

Oscar de la Renta designed living space

We loved the Oscar de la Renta-designed stylish and spacious villas. A two-bedroom configuration is over 3,000 square feet. The layout is equally comfortable for a quiet evening with family or for hosting a formal reception. Each bedroom suite has its own coralline stone bathroom featuring Jacuzzi bath and glass-enclosed shower, walk-in closet and double French doors opening to the large, ocean-view patio. With only fifteen villas gracing this lovely setting, privacy and security are ensured. Visit www.puntacana.com and use the Tortuga Bay Hotel link.

Faces of New Orleans, 2007

This colorful character seemed to be everywhere. Later Gastil and I used this image for our I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival chalk art.

I attended the 7th Annual Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans [August, 2007].  Staying at Harrah’s near the French Quarter, I savored the sounds, sights and people. A jazz mass at historic St. Augustine’s was followed by a second line parade to a multi-stage festival venue that swung all day and into the evening. Great fun.