A Look Back: The Capella Ixtapa Sabor + Vino Festival 2014

Bittersweet chocolate, bed of peanuts and cocoa, Cotija cheese meringue, xoconostle (a fruit of prickly pear cactus) foam, coconut cotton and a reduction of jamaica and passion fruit.

They say the way to a person’s heart is through the stomach.  And if you haven’t fallen in love with Mexico yet, our Capella Ixtapa Sabor + Vino Festival, would have you in head over heels, guaranteed!

Sabor + Vino 2014, which we held this past May, was Capella Ixtapa’s first culinary festival, and with the amazing feedback we received from our guests and visitors, I can promise you it won’t be the last!

Sommelier Lucian Mocanu and Chef Miguel Baltazar from Capella Ixtapa, with Guest Chef Carmen Valencia and Chef Ramiro Ortega.

Sommelier Lucian Mocanu and Chef Miguel Baltazar from Capella Ixtapa, with Guest Chef Carmen Valencia and Chef Ramiro Ortega.

“This region of Mexico has so much to offer gastronomically, offering an authentic Mexican cuisine experience.  We gathered well known chefs from different towns within the region to participate in festival Capella Ixtapa Sabor + Vino 2014, which established a sense of pride and honor, as we presented diverse traditional Mexican dishes, combined with exquisite Mexican wine and spirits for all attendees, complemented with a wonderful culinary event.  The feedback we received was fantastic, and I hope to see you all again at Capella Ixtapa’s Sabor + Vino 2015!” said Eliezer Quinones, General Manager of Capella Ixtapa.

The Capella Ixtapa Sabor + Vino Festival ran over two weekends in May, and featured Guest Chefs,  Carmen Valencia, Ramiro Ortega, Karla Chápero, Jesús Ordoñez.  Hosted by Capella Ixtapa’s Chef Miguel Baltazar, guests were delighted by appetizers based on regional cuisines, cocktail events, cooking classes, two exquisite 7 course wine pairing dinners and a special breakfast where each of the chefs prepared their own signature breakfast dish.

Bittersweet chocolate, bed of peanuts and cocoa, Cotija cheese meringue, xoconostle (a fruit of prickly pear cactus) foam, coconut cotton and a reduction of jamaica and passion fruit.

Bittersweet chocolate, bed of peanuts and cocoa, Cotija cheese meringue, xoconostle (a fruit of prickly pear cactus) foam, coconut cotton and a reduction of jamaica and passion fruit.

Sabor + Vino 2014 was an incredible experience,” said Chef Miguel Baltazar.  “Four different culinary minds came to Capella Ixtapa with the same objective; to satisfy the palate of our guests, surprise them with the magnificent flavors and show them the best of their cuisine.  It was a great pleasure having them with us and creating the first edition of Capella Ixtapa’s culinary festival together.  For me personally it was also a magnificent opportunity to create, innovate and practice with these amazing Chefs for the Chef of the Year in Mexico contest, at which I will be participating in June, and representing the colors of Capella Ixtapa and our region.  Some of the unforgettable dishes from the festival for me were jack fish with black radish, scallops tiradito, jicama fruit infused with beet and mezcal, cocoa with meringue of salt from Zihuatanejo, and crystallized nopal.”

You can see more photos from the festival here, and mark your calendars for May 2015, for the next Capella Ixtapa Sabor + Vino festival.  Our team is already hard at work planning next year’s festivities!

Düsseldorf Entdecken

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Sobald das Wetter sommerliche Temperaturen verspricht, möchte ich immer so viel Zeit wie möglich im Freien verbringen.  Es gibt so viele unterhaltsame Aktivitäten in Düsseldorf – manchmal kann ich mich selbst überhaupt nicht entscheiden, was ich zuerst unternehmen möchte.  Meine allerliebste Beschäftigung im Freien ist das Inline skaten!  Ich war schon an vielen Orten in Deutschland Inline skaten, aber ehrlich gesagt bietet Düsseldorf die schönste Kulisse:  die Rheinufer Promenade!

exploring dusseldorfMeiner Meinung nach, ist das Inline skaten die beste Möglichkeit, sich selbst in Bewegung zu bringen Egal ob Ihr Düsseldorf lieber auf Inlineskates oder auf dem Rad erkundet:  Ich verspreche euch, dass euer Ausflug ein Erlebnis sein wird!  Und natürlich kann ich euch meine Lieblingsstrecke nicht vorenthalten:  Die schönste Tour startet in der Altstadt in Richtung Kaiserswerth und wieder zurück. Ich beginne meinen Ausflug immer in der Altstadt, um mich in die richtige Stimmung zu bringen.  Die beste Möglichkeit dafür hat man bei einem leckeren Essen mit einem Glas Altbier im Uerige!  In dieser traditionellen Düsseldorfer Brauerei könnt Ihr euer Altbier auch im Freien genießen!

Die Tour, die ich bevorzuge ist ungefähr 20 Kilometer lang und ich bin mir sicher, dass Ihr jeden Meter davon genauso genießen werdet wie ich es immer tue!  Warum?  Weil man auf dieser Strecke zahlreiche Sehenswürdigkeiten bewundern kann!  Die Tonhalle zum Beispiel:  Die Tonhalle ist ein Veranstaltungsort, in dem viele Konzerte – üblicherweise klassische Konzerte – stattfinden und sie liegt direkt neben der Rheinufer Promenade.  Der zweite Grund ist, dass die gesamte Route direkt entlang des Rheins verläuft, was sehr idyllisch ist – ich fühle mich immer so frei, wenn ich die vorbeifahrenden Boote beobachte und spüre, wie der Wind durch mein Haar weht.

In Kaiserswerth genehmige ich mir dann eine kleine Pause im Biergarten „Galerie Burghof“, da ich ein großer Fan der frisch gebackenen Waffeln bin.  Dazu genieße ich ein erfrischendes Radler, das mir die nötige Power für den Rückweg gibt.

Wenn Ihr während Eurem nächsten Aufenthalt im Breidenbacher Hof nach verschiedenen Routen für eure eigene Düsseldorfer Inline skating- oder Radtour sucht, können unsere Personal Assistant’s euch mit allen benötigten Informationen und Tipps versorgen.  Ich bin mir sicher, dass sie die außergewöhnlichsten Unternehmungen für Euch vorbereiten werden…

Capella Washington D.C.’s Mount Vernon Bike Tour

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I arrived to Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown on a gorgeous spring morning in April with my great friend as we prepared for a day’s journey to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Mansion, one of the iconic homes from 18th-century America.  Naturally, I crave adventure and outdoor exercise, so the moment I discovered this unique biking and historical tour offered for Capella guests, I was all about trying it out for myself!

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We met Luis Colmenares, Lead Personal Assistant in the main lobby as he greeted us with a surprise backpack lunch with our tickets to the Mount Vernon tour.  He explained that our rental bikes were ready and waiting for us outside, courtesy of Bike & Roll DC!  The Mount Vernon Trail is the main path located just around the corner from the hotel, and winds alongside the scenic Potomac River, offering uninterrupted views of Washington, D.C.’s skyline.  We made sure to take advantage of Luis’ excellent suggestions for pit-stops along the way including Gravelly Point Park, located just north of the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, where you can see planes take off and land, and also Old Town Alexandra, Virginia’s Eamonn’s Restaurant for the best afternoon fish & chips!  I’m always searching for an excuse to be outside and enjoy nature, and this was the perfect, unique experience!

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When we arrived at Mount Vernon, I was so thrilled to find out that not only could we tour the beautiful Mansion, but we could also explore their new exhibit, Gardens & Groves.  This exhibit was incredible and offered the opportunity to discover Washington’s design and see how he created the sweeping lawns, groves of trees, walled gardens, serpentine paths, and the views of Mount Vernon.  When visiting Mount Vernon you journey can go beyond the mansion to the George Washington’s Distillery, which was once the largest distillery in America and produced almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey in 1799, and to the George Washington’s Gristmill, established in 1771, the mill produced more than 275,000 pounds of the highest quality “superfine flour” and exported to both the West Indies and Europe.

George Washington Mount Vernon Re-Sized

More details on this experience:

  • Bike from Capella Washington, D.C. to George Washington’s Mount Vernon on the Mount Vernon Trail (approximately 18 miles).
  • Capella Washington, D.C will provide a delicious backpack lunch (Although you will have a backpack lunch, you are encouraged to try other restaurants, cafes, and shops along the way to Mount Vernon).
  • Park your bicycle and arrive at Mount Vernon (Be sure to ask your Personal Assistant about the variety of tours available on the Mount Vernon property).
  • At the completion of the tour, bicycle back to Capella Washington, D.C. If you wish to have a driver pick you up or take a scenic boat ride back on the Potomac River, please provide your Personal Assistant with 48 hour advance notice to plan accordingly.

I loved the Mount Vernon Bike Tour and definitely recommend it as the quintessential spring experience in Washington, D.C.  It is the perfect way to discover the most incredible views of the cities monuments, while simultaneously getting a bit of exercise.  If you’d like to know more about what to expect, please be sure to read my interview with Cat Pear of Bike and Roll DC.  For details, inquiries, and reservations, be sure to contact your Personal Assistant by calling 202-617-2416 or e-mail pa.dc@capellahotels.com.

Osterfeuer In Düsseldorf

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Ostern steht vor der Tür und mit dem Fest kommen auch die wunderbaren Traditionen, die ich so mag.  Als ich jünger war, war Ostern einer meiner Lieblings-Feiertage.  Ich konnte es nie abwarten, bis mein Vater sagte: „Der Osterhase war da, lasst uns mal nachsehen, ob er ein paar Schokoladeneier versteckt hat!“.  In dem Moment bin ich immer so schnell ich konnte in den Garten gerannt, um so viele Eier wie möglich zu sammeln.  Obwohl ich heute nicht mehr nach Schokoladeneiern suche, freue ich mich trotzdem jedes Jahr auf das Fest!

rsz_easterMeine liebsten Osteraktivitäten sind heute die Osterfeuer.  Kennt ihr die Geschichte, die hinter den Osterfeuern steckt, wenn auf dem Land Berge von Holz verbrannt werden?  Es gibt verschiedene Geschichten zu der Herkunft dieser Tradition, aber ich werde Euch die erzählen, die mir am besten gefällt.  In Düsseldorf werden die Osterfeuer meist am Samstag vor Ostersonntag angezündet.  Überall auf dem Lande sieht man riesige Feuer und hört die Musik bis in die Ferne.  Ich habe gehört, dass diese Tradition aus dem 16. Jahrhundert stammt. Damals glaubte man, dass man durch die Feuer den Winter vertreiben könne. Die dabei entstandene Asche wurde dann zum Düngen der Felder genutzt.  Es ist so gemütlich und friedlich, wenn man das Feuer mit seinen Liebsten, mit Familie oder Freunden zusammen betrachtet.  Ein kühles Getränk genießen und am Feuer zusammen lachen, sich unterhalten oder einfach nur der Musik lauschen – so komme ich am besten in Osterstimmung.

Es ist schwer, die Atmosphäre am Rande eines Osterfeuers zu beschreiben.  Ich denke, ihr solltet einfach nach Düsseldorf kommen, um es selbst einmal zu erleben.  Fragt einfach die Persönlichen Assistenten bei uns im Breidenbacher Hof nach den besten Osterfeuern in der Gegend, damit ihr sicher sein könnt, unvergessliche Osterferien in Düsseldorf zu erleben!

Tips For Planning A Destination Wedding

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Destination weddings are a trend that is growing in popularity.  Often for couples who’s families live far apart, or those looking for a bit of adventure, a destination wedding is the ideal option.  I’ve seen many such couples be joined in marriage here at Capella Ixtapa for these very reasons.  After all, Ixtapa Zihuatanejo offers amazing beaches and surrounding islands, beautiful tropical landscapes, exquisite cuisine, friendly people, beach lifestyle, stunning sunsets and pristine Mexico ambiance—who wouldn’t want to get married here?!

For some planning a destination wedding can be a daunting task.  So, I thought I would talk to Capella Ixtapa’s wedding consultant, José Brito, and get some insider tips on what you need to consider for planning the perfect event.

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1. Define the wedding budget.  This first step of your wedding planning will help you define which destination to pick, the number of guests, hotel and wedding venue.

2. Pick a destination with convenient travel connections.  Since most of your guests will be traveling to the destination, pick a location which has easy and convenient travel connections.  Ixtapa Zihuatanejo has many direct flights from Mexico, US and Canada, so it is very convenient to travel here.  When planning a destination wedding contact your airline (or travel agent) and negotiate group rates.

3. Determine number of guests. Determining the guest list is crucial to understanding where and how your finances will be allocated.

4. Pick a destination and resort and that has something for everyone.  It is important to remember that when you ask guests to travel for your wedding the location becomes a vacation destination for them as well.  So be sure to pick a location that will suit your guests’ varied interests.  In Ixtapa Zihuatanejo you can find something for everyone; for couples, small or multigenerational families, for nature and ocean lovers, for sports lovers and for those who are looking for some relaxing time.  You can find anything from small luxury hotels, to hotels and resorts of a larger scale and even private accommodations.

5.  Work with a local wedding consultant.  A local wedding consultant will be able to help you navigate not only the legalities of getting married in your destination, but also will have relationships with local wedding vendors.  A local consultant can also introduce you to romantic local customs or help you plan excursions for you and your guests.

6.   Get there early.  When planning a destination wedding, Jose recommends that the couple arrives to the location a few of days prior to the wedding, so you can  review in person all the details with your wedding consultant, make final arrangements and get ready for your big day.

7.  Enjoy your wedding.  Jose explains, “Your destination wedding should be all about enjoying your most important day in a beautiful location with your closest group of family and friends,” don’t let the stress of planning it get in the way of enjoying it.  After all, you’ve chosen to have a destination wedding for the experience, so make sure you experience it!

If you are interested in leaning more about a destination wedding at Capella Ixtapa please visit our website, or call us at: USA Toll Free: 1 (877) 296-8889, Canada Toll Free: 1 (855) 842-3399 or Mexico Toll Free: 01-800-838-6501.

[Articulo en español]

The Dusseldorf Fish Market

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March is just around the corner and I am so excited!  You see, March marks the start of the fish market season here in Dusseldorf.  It is also a beautiful time of year in the city.  Usually, it is still cold but you can feel springtime coming.  On Sunday mornings, I usually put on my inline skates and speed to the Rhine promenade.  As Dusseldorf is very accessible, it takes me only 15 minutes to get to the embankment promenade at the Tonhalle.

Even before I enter the fish market, I can already smell it! There is nothing better than starting the day with some exercise and a roll with fresh fish.  This is the 15th year Dusseldorf has hosted the market.  One Sunday a month through November, people from all over come to shop and try the delicious dishes from 90 merchants at the market.  In addition to fish and seafood, there are several other booths offering everything from fresh flowers to beautiful crafts.  It is not just a market; we are talking about an event!

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Dusseldorf is expecting more than 30,000 visitors to the fish market this year- and I am not surprised.  The atmosphere is really impressive. The closer you get to the venue, you can hear people laughing, live music on stage and merchants screaming their offers into the crowd.  It sometimes makes me feel like being at a bazaar, there is just so much going on!  From patrons and fish mongers haggling over prices to merchants performing like stand up comedians, there is entertainment everywhere you turn.  This year there will be 9 opportunities to attend the market, and something tells me I will be at every one of them.

Let your Breidenbacher Hof Personal Assistants know you would like to visit the fish market during your stay, when they will give you a pre-arrival call.  They can give you even more information and also arrange a transfer, bikes or whatever you prefer mode of transportion to the market.  Don’t miss out!