DiMasi: This archipelago of 115 remote islands off the coast of Africa is one of the last truly pristine and
secluded paradises because the government has carefully managed tourism--and construction is strictly regulated. For
ultimate African adventure, spend a week at the Banyan Tree Resort (pictured above), then head to Kruger National Park, the largest wildlife sanctuary in South Africa, for an overland safari. Starting rate per night (three-night minimum): $1,320.
This wallet is made of stingray skin, the same material that Japanese swordsmen use on their weapons, according to Hammacher Schlemmer's web site. I had no idea swordsmen used stringray skin, but apparently the skin is very strong. And unlike a leather wallet, there's no fading or cracking with stringray skin. The wallet has eight credit card slots, a full length divided bill compartment, and two utiltiy pockets. Price: $69.95.
Hotel news out of Los Angeles: Sofitel is currently undergoing a $35 million renovation, with completion set for June 2006. The makeover of the hotel will include a new restaurant, SIMON LA, chef Kerry Simon’s first Los Angeles eatery. The new restaurant from Simon, who opened Simon Kitchen Bar in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, will feature a large outdoor patio with a separate entrance. Additionally, Rande Gerber will open a Stone Rose Lounge (pictured here) in the hotel. There'll also be a luxurious 5,000 square foot full-service spa. Prices for rooms at Sofitel range from $295-$650 a night.
Jewelry gets more ornate this season, with designers creating large, detailed pieces. Gucci went glitzy as well, updating the classic charm bracelet with this modern gold version. Called the Flora Charm bracelet, it's made of 18kt yellow gold and adorned with machalite, sugilite, and tiger eye pendants. Price: $4,590.
Paris designer Tara Jarmon will soon head to Target as part of the company's use of revolving guest designers. She will create a spring/summer line (a Jarmon jacket, available at Amazon.com for $300 is pictured here) for Target, following the departure of London-based fashion designer Luella Bartley, a former editor at Vogue and a favored designer of Kate Moss, who is currently showing 80s-inspired, punk looks at the store. Much of Luella's collection sold out at the online store, but who knows how Tara, whose line hits Target in 11 days, will be received? Nevertheless, it's fun to see these designer head to the discount racks.
Today, a writer queries the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph about Queen Elizabeth II's handbags. The paper reveals the Queen favors handbags by Launer, a British-based designer that holds the Royal Warrant to make her bags. I'm not exactly sure of the legalities of "Royal Warrant," but a look at Launer's web site reveals a collection of rather conservative, boxy-looking handbags (exactly the style a member of the monarchy might like). The web site also has pictures of the Queen's visit to the Launder factory in 1991. The bags, which are made of calf leather, and lined with suede, aren't inexpensive, with the more pricey ones costing upwards of $1,000.