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Recommended experiences from AFAR Magazine

Sweet Basil

Vail
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A Vail Dining Institution Kicks it Up a Notch
Sweet Basil is a Vail institution. Originally opened in 1977 and located in the heart of Vail Village, the restaurant has long been a hit with locals and visiting skiers and outdoor enthusiasts. In summer, diners can eat at tables overlooking Gore Creek, while in the winter, the low-lit dining room and bar feel welcoming and cozy. The seasonal, locally-inspired food has always been good, but in 2014 it went from good to great thanks to the creativity and talent of chefs Blake Edmunds and Chris Schmidt. Former alum of Denver's popular Squeaky Bean, the duo have brought bolder flavors to the menu and smart twists on some of Sweet Basil's signature dishes. The winter 2014 menu was featuring dishes such as crispy veal sweetbreads with roasted Brussels sprouts, shaved bear, basil, and truffle vinaigrette and quail a la planca with date puree, pomegranate, chestnuts, sage, and pickled quail egg. The popular pan roasted duck breast is still on the entree list, alongside newer dishes such as a seed-crusted monkfish with charred octopus escabeche, baby carrot, radish, and mole Coloradito (photo). Save room for dessert. The crowd-pleasing hot sticky toffee pudding is now even better with the addition of peanut brittle and ice cream.
A Vail Dining Institution Kicks it Up a Notch
1 experience

Hotel Valley Ho

Scottsdale
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Embrace Midcentury Mod at Hotel Valley Ho
Hotel Valley Ho is one of the finest examples of midcentury hotels still standing and, boy, does it still wow. The lobby (pictured) is wonderfully cozy and full of the clean lines and bright colors this era is known for. Its history also impresses: During its heyday, the hotel hosted everyone from Janet Leigh to Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood, who held their wedding reception on-site. But, even if you're not a midcentury geek, you'll find plenty of reasons to love the Valley Ho. I highly recommend a Tuscan kale salad and a HO-J (think the best orange shake of your life), then a lounge by the martini-shaped pool (see the green umbrella? That's the olive.).
Embrace Midcentury Mod at Hotel Valley Ho
1 experience
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Grover Zampa Vineyards

Modale
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Drink Beyond the Whites at Grover Zampa Winery
Fans of big reds should visit the nearby family-owned York Winery (york winery.com) for its reserve cabernet sauvignon or shiraz. Afterward, take the scenic route to Grover Zampa, a boutique winery with a spacious tasting room and expansive wine list. (Famed Bordeaux-based oenologist Michel Rolland is a consultant.) Buy a few bottles of the sparkling, fruity Zampa Soirée brut for the road. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Drink Beyond the Whites at Grover Zampa Winery
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Hotel Hello!

Nashik
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Feed Your Body and Soul at Hotel Hello
Five miles south of downtown Nashik, a city of about 1.5 million, stop at the Pandulena Caves, a holy site comprising 24 caves that feature rock carvings of Buddhist deities. Back in Nashik, serves the best authentic Indian around: jumbo papadum, fiery Malwani-style prawns with cardamom, and cilantro-based green curries. The bubbly you bought earlier is the perfect match for all. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Feed Your Body and Soul at Hotel Hello
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Beyond Vineyard Resort

Gangavhare
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Indian Wine 101: The Pioneers
No tour of India’s wine country would be complete without a visit to Sula Vineyards. Its winemakers export bottles to restaurants all over the world including the renowned Daniel in New York. Look for the acidic chenin blanc, a staple of the region. To sleep amid the vines, book a stay at Sula's Beyond Vineyard Resort and treat yourself to a grape-seed body scrub at its spa.From $105 This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Indian Wine 101: The Pioneers
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The Oberoi, Mumbai

Mumbai
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Oberoi Hotel: Rest Up in Mumbai
Recover from jet lag at the Oberoi, a sleek, serene hotel with waterfront views and 24-hour butler service. Every room faces the Queen’s Necklace, a marine strip so called for its nighttime lights that resemble pearls. Visit the concierge to secure a driver for the next morning. Then enjoy the lounge’s view of the sunset over the Arabian Sea. From $265 This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Oberoi Hotel: Rest Up in Mumbai
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Malt Fun

Shanghai
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Malt Fun: Shanghai's Epic Whiskey Bar
“If you’re looking to enjoy a quiet drink and you love whiskey, this is your bar. An iPad menu acts as a directory of more than 150 whiskeys and their origins, from Scotland to Japan. Malt Fun also has a list of mostly classic cocktails. Call ahead to reserve a seat." —Bartender Tree Mao on the French Concession. Read more about his local's take on Shanghai here. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Malt Fun: Shanghai's Epic Whiskey Bar
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Bin 74

Shanghai
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Bin 74: Shanghai's Coziest Wine Bar
“Bin 74 is both a cozy wine bar and a wine shop, so you can buy a bottle to take home, or you can pay a small corkage fee to open one to sip with the Italian-inspired bar snacks, meats, and cheeses from the menu.” —Bartender Tree Mao on the French Concession. Read more about his local's take on Shanghai here. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Bin 74: Shanghai's Coziest Wine Bar
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Xiangyang Park

Shanghai
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Xiangyang Park: A Grassy Snapshot of Shanghai Life
“I used to sit in this small park with a cup of coffee before I went to work. It’s an interesting experience to be in the park and see modern shopping malls on one side of you and tall green trees on the other. At night, older couples gather in the park for group dancing." —Bartender Tree Mao on the French Concession. Read more about his local's take on Shanghai here. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Xiangyang Park: A Grassy Snapshot of Shanghai Life
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Big Movie

Shanghai
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Shanghai's Big Movie: Books, and Magazines and Movies, Oh My
“I go here in search of movies, which often inspire my cocktails. Titanic was the muse for drinks I made at an international competition. I carved a cruise ship out of ice and had it float in a drink, and I re-created a punch that was served on the Titanic.” —Bartender Tree Mao on the French Concession. Read more about his local's take on Shanghai here. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Shanghai's Big Movie: Books, and Magazines and Movies, Oh My
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El Coctel

Shanghai
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El Cóctel: Shanghai's Spanish Cocktails
“I helped to open a Spanish cocktail bar in 2008 with chef Willy Trullas Moreno, and it still gets attention today. The bar program was modeled after Japanese-style cocktail bars that have that fanatical obsession with crafting the perfect drink.” —Bartender Tree Mao on the French Concession. Read more about his local's take on Shanghai here. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
El Cóctel: Shanghai's Spanish Cocktails
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The Mansion Hotel

Shanghai
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Mansion Hotel: From Mob House Club to Shanghai Hotspot
“The historic hotel has more than 200 pieces of period antiques and artifacts throughout the premises. It was built in the 1930s and was originally the clubhouse of a Shanghai mob boss. Today it’s known for its excellent but very expensive Cantonese restaurant.” —Bartender Tree Mao on the French Concession. Read more about his local's take on Shanghai here. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Mansion Hotel: From Mob House Club to Shanghai Hotspot
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Le Vin

Shanghai
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Le Vin
“One of my best friends owns Le Vin. He is a great chef and a very talented sommelier. The space is tiny, so you’re often dining shoulder to shoulder. My wife and I never bother with the menu. We just ask what’s good that night. The specialty is homemade pasta and pizza,” says Tree Mao, of The French Concession, Shangahi, China. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Le Vin
1 experience

initial

Shanghai
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Initial: Vintage Duds, Shanghai-Style
“When I’m behind the bar, I like to wear a nice shirt with a bow tie and blazer so that I look like an English gentleman. Initial is my go-to spot for vintage work clothing.” —Bartender Tree Mao on the French Concession. Read more about his local's take on Shanghai here. Room 3, 142 Xinle Rd., near Donghu Rd., 86/(0) 21-5404-6166 This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Initial: Vintage Duds, Shanghai-Style
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The Last Word

Christchurch
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Whiskey Business: Where to Sip New Zealand Hooch
The more than 180 bottles lining the walls of The Last Word, a tiny, whiskey-centric watering hole, can be a paralyzing sight. But the friendly servers know how to steer drinkers to the right spirit, whether a fruity lowland Scotch or a 21-year-old single malt from a South Island distillery. 31 New Regent St. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Whiskey Business: Where to Sip New Zealand Hooch
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Isaac Theatre Royal

Christchurch
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Curtains Up: A Christchurch Theatre Returns
After years of postquake restorations, the 106-year-old Isaac Theatre Royal—which has hosted everything from the Imperial Russian Ballet to boxing matches—reopened in November, due, in part, to celeb funding (thanks, Sir Ian McKellen). 145 Gloucester St. This appeared in the January/February 2015
Curtains Up: A Christchurch Theatre Returns
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The Caffeine Laboratory

Christchurch
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Eat Like a Kiwi: The Coolest Coffee Shop in Christchurch
Caffeine Laboratory has all the third-wave coffee shop trappings (locally roasted beans, passion fruit doughnuts). But there are splashes of New Zealand too: the long black (double espresso with hot water) and a sandwich made with bubble and squeak, a veggie mash that nods to the country’s British heritage. 1 New Regent St. This appeared in the January/February issue.
Eat Like a Kiwi: The Coolest Coffee Shop in Christchurch
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Rekindle Pop-Up

Christchurch
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Creative Spark: Rebuilding Christchurch One Chair at a Time
“As the aftermath of the earthquakes unfolded, I felt perturbed by the waste the demolition process was producing. So I opened Rekindle (35 New Regent St.), in part to prevent lumber from going to the landfill. Now, we turn salvaged materials into furniture and artwork. We once took bare lumber from a destroyed church and made chairs. People love the pieces because they’re beautiful and they honor the loss we experienced.” —Juliet Arnott, founder of Rekindle This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Creative Spark: Rebuilding Christchurch One Chair at a Time
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Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Christchurch
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Garden City: Smell the Roses in New Zealand
There’s no better place to stop and smell the roses (and the dahlias and the begonias) than Christchurch Botanic Gardens. From New Regent Street, hop on the renovated tram, which stops near the entrance to the 80-plus acres of majestic oaks, water gardens, and rose beds. Rolleston Ave. and Worcester Blvd. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Garden City: Smell the Roses in New Zealand
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Shop Eight Food & Wine

Christchurch
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Good Earth: Local Twists on New Zealand Classics
At Shop Eight Food & Wine, chef Alex Davies turns regional produce—truffles, parsnips, lamb—into elevated country fare (say, lamb heart steak with rhubarb). The locavore vibe extends to the wines and to furniture made by neighboring Rekindle. 8 New Regent St. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Good Earth: Local Twists on New Zealand Classics
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Nita Lake Lodge

Whistler
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Nita Lake Lodge: Whistler Adventure Beyond the Slopes
Whistler is consistently ranked North America’s top ski destination, but the area also offers plenty of adventures for non-skiers. Nita Lake Lodge keeps guests cozy with fireplaces in all 77 rooms and s’mores roasted in the outdoor fire pit every night. At Whistler Sliding Centre, travelers can experience the high-speed thrill of bobsledding. The lodge is only a five-minute walk from the base of Whistler Mountain, where visitors can ride Canada’s longest zip line through the snowy treetops of old-growth rain forest. The lodge recently hired chef Dean Hossack to oversee Aura, a restaurant with tasting menus built around locally foraged ingredients. From $259. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Nita Lake Lodge: Whistler Adventure Beyond the Slopes
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Xiao Bao Biscuit

Charleston
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Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Toast at Xiao Bao Biscuit
XBB, as locals call it, occupies a remodeled and brightly furnished former gas station. Order the Vietnamese-style shrimp toast, a puree of local shrimp, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, lime leaf, and chilies spread on baguette slices, then pan-fried: crispy and satisfying. 224 Rutledge Ave. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Toast at Xiao Bao Biscuit
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Edmund's Oast

Charleston
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Edmund's Oast: A Charleston Brewpub for Food-Lovers
This cavernous brewpub has a wide-open kitchen, a long bar, tall communal tables, and a patio shaded by live oaks. If you can, grab a seat at the chef’s counter and watch Andy Henderson spread creamy aioli on locally made rye bread, and top it with a mound of pickled shrimp and vegetables and a garnish of fresh herbs and chervil leaves. 1081 Morrison Dr.,(843) 727-1145 This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
Edmund's Oast: A Charleston Brewpub for Food-Lovers
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Ordinary Oyster Bar

Charleston
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A Not-So-Ordinary Shrimp Roll in Charleston
At his white-tiled seafood brasserie and oyster bar, chef Mike Lata looks to a New Orleans classic, barbecue shrimp, to work his magic. He poaches head-on shrimp in a creamy sauce infused with Worcestershire and sets them atop charred sourdough. 544 King St., (843) 414-7060 Photo by Flickr user PunkToad. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue.
A Not-So-Ordinary Shrimp Roll in Charleston
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Leon's

Charleston
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Leon's: Serving Charleston's Finest Shrimp Roll
Leon’s is a meticulously renovated auto-body shop famous for oysters and fried chicken. But don’t miss chef Ari Kolender’s shrimp roll—lightly dressed with horseradish mayo and served on a bun grilled to crunchy perfection. 698 King St., (843) 531-6500 Photo by Christopher Shane. This appeared in the January/February 2015 issue
Leon's: Serving Charleston's Finest Shrimp Roll
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Key west first legal rum distillery

Key West
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Tour the Key West Legal Rum Distillery
See our full list of Where to Go in 2015. It is irresistibly tempting to compare distiller Paul Menta to Captain Jack Sparrow. There’s the long, dark hair, the slightly Depp-ish eyes, and yes, a shared love of rum and open sea (Menta’s a competitive kiteboarder). Menta’s business dealings, however, are a bit more…legitimate. The Florida-native opened the Key West Legal Rum Distillery last year, the first legal distillery in the Florida Keys, though rum has flowed through the islands for years. But this is no bathtub rum. A chef by trade, Menta uses Florida sugar cane as his base—you can really taste it in his raw, unfiltered version—which he infuses with coconut, vanilla, and key lime to make flavored rums that are refreshingly bright (and not syrupy). Tours are fun and informative—the distillery, occupying a former saloon-turned-Coke-bottling-plant, doesn’t shy away from the shady side of the local rum trade. Visitors can examine mug shots of infamous local rum-runners, watch as prefiltered rum is drained into the still, and taste Menta’s five spirits. $8, including four tasters and a free shot glass.
Tour the Key West Legal Rum Distillery
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The Other Side

Key West
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The Other Side: New-School Cocktails in Old-School Key West
See our full list of Where to Go in 2015. In the land of piña coladas and light beers, The Other Side cocktail lounge is chiseling out new booze territory one ice globe at a time. Drinks, loosely inspired by the Keys, are like nothing else on the island. There’s the frothy Ramon Fizz, a mix of gin, lime, cream, egg whites, and fleur d’orange, or twists like the fennel martini, and for purists, a serious list of bourbon, whiskeys, and 16 rums. The small space feels a world away from the beach, with touches of old-school Hollywood glamour: a marble-topped bar, padded white leather bar stools, and a painting of a peacock tail fanned across one wall. When you need a break from the sun and throngs, this is the place to tuck in with a good book, or a good date (snag the chess board if you’re feeling ambitious).
The Other Side: New-School Cocktails in Old-School Key West
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Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort & Spa

Inhambane
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Discover Paradise Island with Anantara Bazaruto Resort
I’m always wary of any place that calls itself paradise, but Paradise Island, a 40-minute boat ride off the coast of Bazaruto Island, lives up to its name. The staff at Anantara can organize magical day-trips to the island with a chef, local guide, and snorkeling guide. While the chef set up a table and chairs under the shade of a tent and started to stoke a fire on the grill, my guide led me around the largely uninhabited island and told me a bit about its history. In the 1950s and 1960s, Paradise Island (sometimes also called Santa Carolina Island) was a destination for wealthy Brits with a penchant for fishing and partying. The crumbling ruins of the island’s once famed resort still remain and we were able to wander around the now empty rooms and look out across the sea. Our guide, Fernando, told us his father had been a skipper and he grew up visiting this island. After the tour I went for a long snorkel with Anantara’s guide who has a Jacques Cousteau–like knowledge of the area’s sea life. The real treat though was lunch. Awaiting us was a seafood feast that started with tuna sashimi and was followed by grilled prawns and lobster, of course all paired with champagne. Rather than return by boat, Anantara can arrange a helicopter ride back to the resort so that guests can take in the incredible white sand dunes from above. The experience was about as close to paradise as I’ve ever come.
Discover Paradise Island with Anantara Bazaruto Resort
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