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Near and AFAR: Family Trips, New Hotels, and Trendy Tea

By AFAR magazine

Oct 8, 2014

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Photo by Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson.

“We rented a house on the beach!” my mom told me earlier this year. With that, my husband and I booked tickets from California to the Dominican Republic for a family vacation, something I hadn’t done in 15 years. My mom is originally from Santo Domingo, so my parents and I went often when I was younger. This time, we visited Las Terrenas, a beach town on the Samaná Peninsula that is a popular destination for Dominicans. As mom promised, we were right on the sand. At night, we rode ATVs into town for dinner at casual roadside spots. They sold grilled chicken, plantains, and majarete, a delicious corn pudding that has been my favorite dessert since I was a kid. As for the days, we spent them lounging on the secluded Playa Cosón (above), my favorite beach for bone-deep laziness and reading every word Ann Patchett has published. —Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson

Where to Stay Now in Istanbul:

390_JZARINS_Raff_Istanbul_Suite_Bedr_070 1_f2

Photo courtesy of Raffles Hotels & Resorts.

Outside of sleeping in Istanbul’s iconic Grand Bazaar, the new Raffles is as close as one can get to the city’s great shopping: The lobby connects to the Zorlu Center, a 1-million-square-foot complex with everything from the Italian food hall Eataly to the Turkish boutique Yargici. As for the 132 rooms and 49 suites, each features art inspired by the Byzantine empire and terraces overlooking the city. Also, not to be missed: the spa’s gorgeous hammam. From $770. —Jen Murphy

Trend: Tea’s Time

Years into the third-wave coffee craze, unusual teas—especially those from China—are finally gaining popularity. Peter Weitman, a New York City tea consultant, shares three to taste.

1. The Grassy One: Intelligentsia sells “Emerald Spring,” which is processed using a hand-rolling technique that irons the leaves out into slender rods. Cultivated in China’s Hubei Province, the green tea tastes vegetal and buttery smooth.

2. Smoke in a Cup: At the Mandarin’s Tea Room in New York City, founder Timothy Hsu will walk you through the making of shui xian. The smoky oolong gets its stony flavor from its home: Nanping’s Wuyi Mountains.

3. Fermented Tea: No varietal excites obsessives more than pu-erh. The Yunnan Province tea is oddly complex, especially when prepared in shou form: leaves are fermented and aged for up to 50 years. Try it at the new Samovar Tea Bar in San Francisco’s Mission District.


Tea at The Mandarin’s House in New York City. Photo by Timothy Hsu.

This appeared in the November/December 2014 issue.

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