Next Up: NYC

New York City

[trip style = urban]

While everyone else is on the hunt for the coolest pool inflatable {read: unicorn!} to Instagram in a sea of blue, I'm going to zig while others zag and seek the city versus the sand.

This week I'm kicking off the TS summer in style and heading to the ultimate metropolis, New York, to explore Lower Manhattan's eye-popping revitalization and report back on its essentials.

Trip Styler Tip: On the topic of zigging while others zag, as in, booking a summertime getaway to the city versus the beach... I love this travel strategy because it always boils down to less financial output. Case in point: Cathay Pacific is offering up to 23% off Economy Class and Business Class fares between Vancouver and New York right now. This is not sponsored, I'm just telling you because the airline and destination are TS travel muses.

When I first started Trip Styler back in 2009 I made a vow to visit the Big Apple yearly. My rationale: Connecting with New York is like getting together with your coolest friend. It never gets old {and you're already anticipating your next visit before you've even parted ways}. While I haven't 100% hit the lofty goal of visiting every 12 months, I've been able to prioritize getting there almost once a year. Because, New York. 

To whet your NYC palate, here's a taste of the concrete jungle courtesy of some never-seen-on-TS photos from my trip with Mr. Trip Styler a year ago. More dispatches will hit the wire shortly. I leave Monday night on the daily and nonstop YVR to JFK Cathay Pacific flight. Stay tuned. 

{Want to know more about a photo or pinpoint its exact location? Click it!}

Related
First Look :: Cathay Pacific's GORGEOUS New Lounge at YVR

[photos by @tripstyler + @mrtripstyler]

The Après-Vacation BFF: Your Freezer

freezer meals for when you get home from vacation

[trip style = food]

Recently, I've made a new friend who welcomes me home from my travels with a green smoothie and a near-ready dinner. She's a little cold, but she's faithful, so our friendship thrives. This new friend is my freezer, and if we coordinate our schedules well, she's a real lifesaver when I need to feed the TS Crew healthy food {and I'm too tired to brave the grocery store}!  

In my early Trip Styling days, I would come home from vacation to an empty fridge. No problemo. A jar of peanut butter would satiate my hunger until I could dash to the market. Now that I have a baby and a toddler, I can’t employ the same laissez-faire technique. So now, the SMARTEST THING I do before I leave on a trip is stock the freezer with healthy dishes, which I can "make" {read: pull out of the freezer and defrost} when I'm so jet-lagged I can't see straight.

The best part about this post-vacation freezer plan is its ease: All I do is make a few extra portions of the meals I’m already consuming before we leave. Bonus: When my freezer is full of good-to-go meals, there’s no temptation to stop for fast food or worry about meal-planning. 

Here are some of my crew’s post-travel freezer favorites:

The Every Meal
CAULI CAKES {pictured at the top}: I love cauli cakes—a veggie take on my friend-who-should-have-her-own-restaurant Buffie's crab cakes—for any meal of the day. It's easy to make a ton of these in advance; plus, they freeze well and defrost quickly. To whip them up, mix cauliflower rice {raw cauliflower pulsed in the food processor}, an egg, mayo, panko, parmesan, a dash of dijon, fresh herbs, and S&P to taste. Once everything is combined, mold them into golf ball-sized portions, place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, flatten them a little with your palm, and bake at 350ºF for about 12 mins {until slightly browned on top}. 

breaskfast when you come home from vacation

Breakfast
But first, COFFEE: If you’re a superhuman who can take your coffee straight-up, I salute your minimalism {and wish I could sip the same}. However, if you like something creamy in your cup, try to freeze a little before you hightail it for vacationville! Freezing cream actually works.

SMOOTHIES: Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables such as bananas, pineapple, peaches, blueberries, spinach, or kale, and blend them together to kick-start your post-vacation detox. Your body will thank you.
--> Have you tried our detoxifying jugo verde recipe

OATS: As far as sustenance, oatmeal with berries is a sure bet. Either pre-freeze a batch you’re already making, or throw some whole oats on the stove and add frozen berries. Grab a handful of almonds from your pantry and it's a whole meal.

QUINOA: We're quinoa-obsessed since carby-protein is tasty, good for you, and SUPER versatile. Pre-make it before you leave, then defrost it, fry it up, and add an egg. If you have a sweet tooth, heat it up with butter, maple syrup, and frozen pre-cut banana pieces.

dinner ideas for when you come home from vacation

Lunch or Dinner
LASAGNA: I know, you know, and your mom knows that lasagna is an ideal freezer meal.

SOUP: Soup and bread are sure bet {and one pairing I always keep in my deep-freeze}. Most soups freeze well, and bread defrosts quickly, meaning your hunger pangs will be sorted in seconds.

VEG: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked in my fridge the night before leaving on a trip only to realize I’ve got a bunch of veggies that won’t survive my time away. Even though I’m usually running behind on the packing front, I take an extra 10 minutes to chop up all my veggies and put them into a freezer bag or sealed container. Pre-chopped veggies go with any pantry staple or sauce kicking around my fridge, and supercharge my diet when I'm done with rich travel meals.

Want more "cool" ideas? Check out my article in The Kitchn: 17 Freezer Meals for When You Come Back from Vacation.

[Photos by @TripStyler]

My Most Beautiful Meal in Hong Kong

high-end dim sum in hong kong

[trip style = food + urban]

If you want to devour ALL the dim sum, Hong Kong is the place to let your taste buds do the exploring. Home to mom-and-pop shops, and a swath of sophisticated restaurants where families go to celebrate or tycoons dine to impress, the food-obsessed city is your best bet for tasting the traditional Cantonese meal. 

Having dined on dim sum from street to three-star Michelin-chic, I thought I'd found my all-stars. Then I sat down for a two-star Michelin feast and preferred it in every way.    

The fact that I'm writing about dim sum being my most beautiful meaI in Hong Kong is a next-level achievement for this once-picky eater. In addition to tasting menus featuring rabbit-stuffed ravioli, or lamb prepared in an oven dug into the Sahara Desert, the myriad of dishes in a dim sum feast remind me how far I've come from crackers and cheese. While I don't indulge in golden frog legs with spicy salt on a regular basis, my travels have taught that experiencing a place through its traditional food gives you a seat at its cultural table, both literally and figuratively. With this, here's a first-hand account of my seat at Yan Toh Heen, one of Hong Kong's most beloved Cantonese restaurants, called the "best for dim sum virgins" by CNN.

From design, to food, to the rarely-seen kitchen, I give you: My most beautiful meal in Hong Kong.

Talk about an entrance. Before you even enter Yan Toh Heen, custom jade gates made from the restaurant's original gemstone tableware make for a wow-factor arrival.

Talk about an entrance. Before you even enter Yan Toh Heen, custom jade gates made from the restaurant's original gemstone tableware make for a wow-factor arrival.

The harbor-view dining room is draped in soft cream linens, mother-of-pearl, and wood accents, which provide a plush backdrop to the main star: The dim sum {historically a snack food for tired and weary travelers}.

The harbor-view dining room is draped in soft cream linens, mother-of-pearl, and wood accents, which provide a plush backdrop to the main star: The dim sum {historically a snack food for tired and weary travelers}.

Sharpening his knife and practicing the art of Cantonese cooking since the age of 14 in renowed Hong Kong dim sum kitchens, Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai {left} is “the” guy you want folding, frying, and obsessing over your steamed pork and prawn dumplings.

Sharpening his knife and practicing the art of Cantonese cooking since the age of 14 in renowed Hong Kong dim sum kitchens, Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai {left} is “the” guy you want folding, frying, and obsessing over your steamed pork and prawn dumplings.

The Executive Chef also doubles as a knowledgeable {and hilarious} dim sum teacher. Call the InterContinental Hong Kong to book a dim sum-making class at Yan Toh Heen.

The Executive Chef also doubles as a knowledgeable {and hilarious} dim sum teacher. Call the InterContinental Hong Kong to book a dim sum-making class at Yan Toh Heen.

Fun with dim sum: Making a crab with asparagus pinchers.

Fun with dim sum: Making a crab with asparagus pinchers.

More fun with dim sum, this time, a fish and a bunny. 

More fun with dim sum, this time, a fish and a bunny. 

Every place setting is decorated with custom jade tableware, so substantial, it's hard to lift.

Every place setting is decorated with custom jade tableware, so substantial, it's hard to lift.

The pièce de resistance: Peking duck, carved and served on a trolley, tableside.

The pièce de resistance: Peking duck, carved and served on a trolley, tableside.

Peking Duck is a revered Chinese dish. The traditional preparation, involving many hours, leaves the skin crispy and the meat succulent. Here, the crispy skin is served atop thin pancakes along with crudités such as green papaya, cucumber, red chili, and pineapple, as well as a selection of signature sauces. Deeeeeeelish.

Peking Duck is a revered Chinese dish. The traditional preparation, involving many hours, leaves the skin crispy and the meat succulent. Here, the crispy skin is served atop thin pancakes along with crudités such as green papaya, cucumber, red chili, and pineapple, as well as a selection of signature sauces. Deeeeeeelish.

From top: Roasted duck-stuffed taro bun, crispy spring roll with shredded chicken, and steamed mushroom and black truffle dumpling.  

From top: Roasted duck-stuffed taro bun, crispy spring roll with shredded chicken, and steamed mushroom and black truffle dumpling.  

Wok-fried vegetables served in an edible wheat-flour basket.

Wok-fried vegetables served in an edible wheat-flour basket.

Chilled on-the-spot mango cream with pomelo.

Chilled on-the-spot mango cream with pomelo.

A view of the dim sum prep kitchen. 

A view of the dim sum prep kitchen. 

Eating my intricate meal and seeing the kitchen in action, I've gleaned that dim sum chefs who labor over each piece with a surgical attention to detail, are food savants. 

Eating my intricate meal and seeing the kitchen in action, I've gleaned that dim sum chefs who labor over each piece with a surgical attention to detail, are food savants. 

How to Order Dim Sum
1. If you're a newbie, order the chef's tasting menu—typically a "highlight reel"—so it's a smart bet.
2. Plan ahead: Signatures such as Peking Duck or Barbecued Suckling Pig, often require advanced notice. 
3. Many dim sum restaurants serve their dishes from a trolley that passes by each table. When there's a menu it is often presented in categories {steamed, fried, noodle, specialty dishes, dessert} for easy ordering. 
4. Don't keep a dish to yourself, dim sum is a sharing meal.
5. Always start with tea. High-end dim sum restaurants have tea sommeliers to pair your sips with your selections.

Other Dispatches in this Series
6 Hong Kong Hints {that will make you want to book a ticket ASAP}
Flying Well :: Cathay Pacific's Revolutionary A350
Style Inspiration :: The Pier Business + First Class Lounges in Hong Kong
First Look :: Cathay Pacific's GORGEOUS New Lounge at YVR
Hong Kong :: Instagram Diary
Cathay Pacific Vancouver to Hong Kong

[photos by @tripstyler, except jade gates and interior shot provided by the InterContinental Hong Kong, where I stayed and dined as a guest. As with all Trip Styler dispatches involving partners, I ONLY talk about best-in-class travel experiences. This is one of them.]

6 Hong Kong Hints {that will make you want to book a ticket ASAP}

7 need-to-know tips for visiting hong kong

[trip style = luxury + food + active]

Each time I visit Hong Kong, I’m captivated by its yin-yang magnetism. At once a metropolis counting some of the world’s top hotels and restaurants, and an equatorial escape rimmed by lush hills and sugary beaches, the Pearl of the Orient has an irresistible pull {just ask my passport}.

To take full advantage of its unique tower-meets-tropical lifestyle, I’ve rounded up six Hong Kong hints {aka: trip styled tips} to add some sizzle to your visit. 

Stay ON Victoria Harbour

Where to stay in hong kong Closest Hotel to the Water

In this city of skyscrapers, many hotels offer an outlook, but only one stay can boast about its position perched—quite literally—over Victoria Harbour. With half of the hotel built on stilts, saying the 503-room InterContinental Hong Kong has iconic views is an understatement. From two-thirds of the rooms, as well as most restaurants in the foodie-centric hotel, the vista is 100 percent sea and skyline. Couple this panoramic perspective with in-room smartphones featuring city-wide connectivity {probably my favorite amenity EVER since I hot-spotted off the phone's WiFi while I explored}, 24-hour butler service, WiFi, and poolside tai chi classes with Master William Ng {photo below}, and you may not want to return home once you check-in.

Misty morning tai chi with Master William, a gentle soul I met on one of my previous trips and again in April. Trust me: Book a class with this legend pre-arrival. He will drop more wisdom in five minutes than you could glean in five days at home....

Misty morning tai chi with Master William, a gentle soul I met on one of my previous trips and again in April. Trust me: Book a class with this legend pre-arrival. He will drop more wisdom in five minutes than you could glean in five days at home....

Do Dim Sum

Where to go for dim sum in Hong Kong

When visiting Hong Kong, you’d be at a culinary loss if you didn’t do dim sum. Meaning “to touch the heart,” the small bites were originally created as a snack food for travelers. Today, dim sum is a central part of local culture and family celebrations. Spanning cheap to chic, hundreds of dim sum restaurants are scattered around town, from the once-cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, Tim Ho Wan, to the gorgeous and local hero-helmed, Yan Toh Heen. Here, Executive Chef Lau Yiu Fai is “the” guy you want folding, frying, and obsessing over your steamed pork and prawn dumplings or Peking duck—and not just because he’s yielded two Michelin stars and five stars by Forbes Travel Guide for the restaurant. Practicing the art of Cantonese cooking in famous Hong Kong kitchens since the age of 14 {and living in Vancouver for half a decade}, Chef proves that with passion and skill you can reach the stars. Stay tuned for more dim sum photos and an ordering guide, because they are too delicious to keep to myself!
 

Head to the Hills  

Hiking in hong kong

Each time I fly into Hong Kong I’m struck by the greenery and rolling hills. Turns out, the destination's iconic cityscape photos only show a small part of its landscape: Just 25 percent of the metropolis is a concrete jungle, while 40 percent of the surrounding land is dedicated to country parks and nature reserves {some of which include gorgeous sandy beaches}. As a result, hiking is a common local pastime. If you have a friend in town, head to the hills with them; if you don't, contact Sam the Local, a bespoke tour company offering personalized activities by in-the-know residents.
 

Eat at these Palate-Pleasers

RECH by Alain Ducasse

A number of best-in-class restaurants make their international debuts in Hong Kong. As one of the world’s major landing pads for celeb-status chefs—hello: Nobu, Gordon Ramsay, and Jamie Oliver—two more tastemakers are making their mark.

At night, don’t miss the just-opened (February 2017) Rech by Alain Ducasse, lead by one of the world’s most celebrated chefs with double digit Michelin stars. As the first international outpost of the famed Paris seafood institution, Rech’s ocean-focused cuisine is enhanced by its mouth-watering location perched over Victoria Harbour. Here, the exquisite dining experience epitomizes contemporary gourmet with specialties such as Alain Ducasse’s private-label Champagne; pan-seared sole hand-picked from a small catch of fisherman in France, a whole wheel of Camembert made by the Mons {France's famous cheesemaking family}; and the XL éclair crafted with chocolate from Ducasse’s own confectionary.

Potato Head Hong Kong
PHHK

If your tastes skew a little more boho, check out Potato Head Hong Kong transplanted from Bali's high-design hotspot, Potato Head Beach Club. Making its urban home in Hong Kong's dynamic Sai Ying Pun neighborhood in 2016, this low-key space combining a coffee bar, shop filled with Bali finds, ‘70s-style audio room, an all-day dining space teeming with tropical greenery, and the Balinese eatery Kaum, makes for a sure-thing escape within the Hong Kong cityscape.
 

Sip in the Sky

Drinks with a view in Hong Kong
seeva hong kong

With more than 8,000 towers huddled into Hong Kong, the Pearl of the Orient has numerous locations for a sky-high sip. One not-to-miss nest is SEVVA: 13,000 square feet of indoor-outdoor bliss where haute-couture cocktails and cuisine are served to international influencers. Once you reach the 25th-floor entrance, head straight to the wraparound terrace where the city’s hues and heartbeat are on full display. 
 

See the "Real" Light Bright

Hong Kong Symphony of Lights tips

At 8 p.m. every night Hong Kong’s already sparkling skyline ups itself a notch with a free light show featuring a “cast” of more than 40 buildings. Reflecting over the calm waters of Victoria Harbour, A Symphony of Lights (crowned the “World's Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show” by Guinness World Records) pairs lights and laser beams with music in a 13-minute ode to the city’s spirit. The best part: All you have to do is show up to witness the Pearl of the Orient’s wow-factor.

Other Dispatches in this Series
My Most Beautiful Meal in Hong Kong
Flying Well :: Cathay Pacific's Revolutionary A350
Style Inspiration :: The Pier Business + First Class Lounges in Hong Kong
First Look :: Cathay Pacific's GORGEOUS New Lounge at YVR
Hong Kong :: Instagram Diary
Cathay Pacific Vancouver to Hong Kong

[This article is adapted form a post I wrote in the Expedia Viewfinder Travel Blog. Photos by @TripStyler and InterContinental Hong Kong, taken while exploring Hong Kong in partnership with the hotel, Cathay Pacific (who offers 17 flights weekly between Vancouver and Hong Kong), and on my own.]  

Style Inspiration: The Pier Business + First Class Lounges in Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific's The Pier Review + Photos

[trip style = luxury]

I'm not a fan of layovers. When possible, I minimize them in favor of direct routes and fast connections, unless I'm routing through Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific. In this case, long layovers are *highly* recommended because The Pier Business Class and First Class lounges are SO gorgeous, being intransit is a {trip styled} treat.

Over my trip styling tenure, I've had the opportunity to step into some of the world's most luxurious lounges in worldwide hubs from Tokyo to London to Dubai {to name a few}. While many of these flagship retreats were notable with their on-demand candy, relaxation rooms, mini manicures, and fresh-pressed juices, last week I found my muse in The Pier. Basically, it's my real-life Pinterest design inspiration board. {Seriously, I'm storing all of its decorating cues for the new home I'm moving into this summer.} 

With a complete refresh in mid-2015 by design star Ilse Crawford and her team at the London-based Studioilse, both Cathay's The Pier Business and First Class lounges were re-imagined with wellness, comfort and considered simplicity in mind. Here, Asian minimalism melds with midcentry in a space that brings the Jet Age back to travel {but without the updos, three-piece suits and formality}.

Take a peek into the peak of airline lounge style: 

DETAILS: The Pier, Business
Open to: First and Business Class passengers, Marco Polo Club Silver and above members, and oneworld Emerald members and Sapphire members.
Find it: Level 6, Terminal 1 near gate 65 in the Hong Kong International Airport.
Features: 14 Shower Suites, The Relaxation Room, The Food Hall, The Coffee Cart, The Bar, The Tea House, The Noodle Bar, The Bureau workspace. 
Trip Styler Tip: Once you put in your order for Dan Dan noodles at The Noodle Bar, head to The Tea House to breathe in and select a brew that befits your journey.

The 35,500-square-foot lounge is a bright, cherry wood-ensconced space with distinct areas for eating, relaxing and working. Imagine a modern rancher home cantilevered over the edge of a hill and you've got The Pier, Business.

The 35,500-square-foot lounge is a bright, cherry wood-ensconced space with distinct areas for eating, relaxing and working. Imagine a modern rancher home cantilevered over the edge of a hill and you've got The Pier, Business.

One huge difference between The Pier, Business and other lounges I've visited around the world is its focus on bringing the outdoors in. Terrariums and tropical greenery make you feel as though you're in the hills of Hong Kong versus in an airport waiting for a flight. 

One huge difference between The Pier, Business and other lounges I've visited around the world is its focus on bringing the outdoors in. Terrariums and tropical greenery make you feel as though you're in the hills of Hong Kong versus in an airport waiting for a flight. 

Part food market, part bakery, part deli, part coffee shop, the Food Hall is the kind of place you *wish* was down the street from your home.  

Part food market, part bakery, part deli, part coffee shop, the Food Hall is the kind of place you *wish* was down the street from your home.  

Oh, hello barista-run Coffee Cart.

Oh, hello barista-run Coffee Cart.

The Noodle Bar is a much-loved Cathay lounge 'darling' for its made-to-order noodles. Frequent flyers know their order before they even arrive, and place it as soon as they get there. 

The Noodle Bar is a much-loved Cathay lounge 'darling' for its made-to-order noodles. Frequent flyers know their order before they even arrive, and place it as soon as they get there. 

The moment I stepped into The Tea House, my brain activity went from racing to resting. The lightly fragrant smell of loose-leaf tea and the ultra-calm environs lulled me into a state of calm. If I spent all day at the lounge, this is where I'd hang my hat {once I'd selected a tea to match my mood}. 

The moment I stepped into The Tea House, my brain activity went from racing to resting. The lightly fragrant smell of loose-leaf tea and the ultra-calm environs lulled me into a state of calm. If I spent all day at the lounge, this is where I'd hang my hat {once I'd selected a tea to match my mood}. 

Relaxation Room: Soft light and plush lounges allow travelers to rest before embarking on their next leg. Zzzzzz.

Relaxation Room: Soft light and plush lounges allow travelers to rest before embarking on their next leg. Zzzzzz.

DETAILS: The Pier, First
Open to: First Class passengers, Diamond Marco Polo Club members, and Emerald oneworld members who are departing or transiting in Hong Kong. 
Find it: Level 6, Terminal 1 near gate 63 in the Hong Kong International Airport.
Features: 14 Showers, 8 Day Suites, The Retreat {a complimentary spa}, The Dining Room, The Pantry, The Bar, The Bureau work space.
Trip Styler Tip: Arrive early. As soon as you settle, make an appointment for a foot massage, or a neck, back and scalp massage, complimentary for all First Class guests.

With a focus on wellbeing, the 22,000-square-foot The Pier, First Class lounge engages the five senses with its soothing surroundings draped in earth tones, natural textures and local plant life.

With a focus on wellbeing, the 22,000-square-foot The Pier, First Class lounge engages the five senses with its soothing surroundings draped in earth tones, natural textures and local plant life.

Just putting this out there: I would like every piece and finish in this scene to be in my living room. 

Just putting this out there: I would like every piece and finish in this scene to be in my living room. 

Sipping Moët & Chandon Rose Brut at the 10-seat Bar. 

Sipping Moët & Chandon Rose Brut at the 10-seat Bar. 

The Beverage and Wine List at the Bar.

The Beverage and Wine List at the Bar.

One of my favorite features about The Pier, First is The Dining Room, a chic-come-comfortable eatery with made-to-order dishes. Dressed in walnut, green leather and brass, I half expected to spot Don Draper dining with his ad exec friends, but sadly, I missed him. 

One of my favorite features about The Pier, First is The Dining Room, a chic-come-comfortable eatery with made-to-order dishes. Dressed in walnut, green leather and brass, I half expected to spot Don Draper dining with his ad exec friends, but sadly, I missed him. 

The Chef-made meals in the Dining Room are beautifully prepared and well-liked by my frequent flying friends who visit this lounge regularly. Dishes such as seared salmon with herbed potatoes, green peas and asparagus, or greens with pomelo and watermelon fly MILES above typical airport fare.

The Chef-made meals in the Dining Room are beautifully prepared and well-liked by my frequent flying friends who visit this lounge regularly. Dishes such as seared salmon with herbed potatoes, green peas and asparagus, or greens with pomelo and watermelon fly MILES above typical airport fare.

With a view over the runway, 8 fully private and walnut-wrapped Day Suites mean that counting sheep is as easy as 1-2-3... 

With a view over the runway, 8 fully private and walnut-wrapped Day Suites mean that counting sheep is as easy as 1-2-3... 

Enter The Retreat, a Cathay first-of-its-kind guest spa offering complimentary foot or neck and shoulder massages. As soon as you arrive, book an appointment to seek on-the-go soothing. 

Enter The Retreat, a Cathay first-of-its-kind guest spa offering complimentary foot or neck and shoulder massages. As soon as you arrive, book an appointment to seek on-the-go soothing. 

If you feel like a snack, head to the Pantry for healthy and upscale bites that change throughout the day. Don't miss the fresh-pressed juices. My favorite was watermelon, a low-sugar and high-antioxidant drink that's perfect for a pre-flight pick-me-up. 

If you feel like a snack, head to the Pantry for healthy and upscale bites that change throughout the day. Don't miss the fresh-pressed juices. My favorite was watermelon, a low-sugar and high-antioxidant drink that's perfect for a pre-flight pick-me-up.