JET SET EXPERIENCES: Finding paradise in the Gili Islands

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Nestled off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia, sit three idyllic islands where the water is a mesmerizing turquoise blue, the beaches are powder soft white sand, and the radiant sun descends behind neighboring Bali’s famous volcano. Best of all: there are no motorized vehicles, which makes horse drawn carriages, bikes, and walking the preferred modes of transportation!

Each island has its own unique charm. Gili Meno, the middle and the smallest of the islands, is known as the “Honeymoon Island” due to its secluded beaches. Gili Air is closest to Lombok and has retained its local character and quiet vibe. By contrast, Gili Trawangan (known as Gili T), is the largest and most cosmopolitan of all the islands with trendy restaurants and alluring nightlife. Due to the islands popularity, boutique hotels are popping up all over, but maintain the unified focus on sustainability to protect the local environment.

I was fortunate enough to have just visited the Gili Islands on my “engagement-moon.” Each perfect day in paradise started with fresh squeezed juices and eggs benedict followed by a brisk digestive ride around Gili Air for about 30 minutes. We would then rent snorkeling gear and jot around the island to explore different bays, which were breathtaking amid the reflections cast from approaching the storm. For lunch, we savored fresh seafood on the beach followed by a relaxing massage where we were lulled by the sound of the waves. As the day wound down, we found ourselves lounging on plush cushions enjoying local music and with tropical cocktails in hand admiring the most beautiful sunset that seemed to last for hours.

To taste your own slice of paradise, contact Courtney Sheeley at

JETSET EXPERIENCES: The Brando is truly your “oyster”!

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I’ve always believed – and perhaps this is the hopeless romantic in me – that the more inaccessible the destination, the more unforgettable the experience. The Brando, a newly opened LEED Platinum luxury retreat in French Polynesia, proves this hypothesis.

Marlon Brando first discovered Tetiaroa, an atoll 33 miles north of Tahiti, in 1960 while scouting locations for Mutiny on the Bounty. As they have with many before his time, the islands captured his spirit and left an indelible mark; they certainly had the same effect on me. Few places remain so unspoiled and so pristine, so it seems a natural consequence that the famous actor would put in motion the vision that would ultimately become The Brando, his namesake and legacy. His initial investment of $100 million developed the world’s first (nearly) self-sustaining, fully inclusive hideaway with only 35 bungalows. Those fortunate enough to visit will savor sundrenched days admiring the 32 shades of blue that beckon water enthusiasts to kayak, Stand Up Paddleboard, kite surf, snorkel, cruise, swim…or simply sink in to a sunbed next to your own private pool. Wildlife exists in abundance with unique bird species, sea turtle nests, humpback whale calving grounds, and coral gardens to shade rays and countless tropical fish. And then there’s always the Polynesian spa, Varua, to sooth the spirit – or Bob’s Bar to sip spirits. Whatever you elect, The Brando is truly your “oyster”!

Experience this Polynesian Paradise yourself by contacting Julia Douglas:

JETSET EXPERIENCES: Eau Palm Beach, a Magical retreat in southern Florida

“Magical.”  This seemed the most fitting answer when my Romanian massage therapist, Silvia, asked “How was the experience?”  The spa at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, formerly the Ritz Carlton Palm Beach, is certainly an experience.  My interest was piqued when I learned that rather than dried fruit and infused water, guests are welcomed with sparkling wine and cupcakes!  How could I possibly go wrong?  This playful theme prevails throughout, most notably with a clock whose minute hand turns counter clockwise, essentially turning back time, reminding new arrivals to Pause. Play. Perfect.

Their unique ritual begins with a candle ceremony where a wish is made and then the floating votive is carefully placed in their “wishing well”.  The only rule is that the wish must be self-indulgent.  Wishing for world peace, for example, is off limits.  Wishing for eternal youth: perfect!

Next I was escorted through the expansive outdoor courtyard to my treatment room: Villa Proud.  Neighboring salons were named Villa Naughty and Villa Greedy, to paint a more colorful picture.  And the room itself was colorful too, with a range of hues offered to match your aura.  I selected teal.  The next decision: aromatherapy selection.  Lavender and peppermint appealed most: Pause.  Finally, I was encouraged to enjoy a teaspoon of local honey to boost my immunity.   The journey had officially begun before any pressure had even been applied. Magical.

To learn about Julia’s recent travels through southern Florida, or to book your next magical moment, email: or call 312-574-1181.