We enjoyed our spring visit to the waterfront John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in part because at times it felt almost like a stroll in the park. We anticipated that the 66 acre estate was too large to explore in a single day so we had narrowed our selection to fit into the morning. Once we were there we liked it so much we spent the day.
We felt instantly welcome when we arrived at the Meranova Guest Inn, tired and hungry from a long drive. Within minutes we were settled in our rooms, one fronting a central garden and the other facing the town’s most popular street. While I declined Frank’s generous offer of a cocktail I immediately pounced on one of his homemade brownies. During our stay we found the owners Frank Baiamonte and David Roy to be efficient, punctual, knowledgeable about the area, and gracious hosts.
The name of the property meant Sea Star from the words mer (French for sea) and nova or bursting star. To honor it there was a starfish on the property logo. The location in the heart of Dunedin, steps away from Main Street, could not be beat. We appreciated the amount of labor and dedication the owners had poured into the property over the years. In David’s own words, “We have been able to do everything ourselves on the property except for income taxes and fix refrigerators.”
We liked that the restaurant butchered all its own meat and sourced all produce, mostly organic, locally. From the soup amouse bouche to dessert our meal was delicious and the attentive and friendly service a perfect match. Should we return to Dunedin The Black Pearl will be at the top of our list of fine dining restaurants.
The friendly and well informed tour staff enhanced our experience. We liked the thoughtful enclosures designed with the needs of each species in mind (such as an air conditioned section for the snow leopards, special soil for porcupines to dig holes, and water features for the tigers); the pristine and nearly smell free facility and animals; and how relaxed the beasts were during our visit.
One of the major reasons I decided to travel to Barcelona this spring was the possibility of flying directly and non stop from Miami to Barcelona in Iberia’s newly inaugurated luxury service with fully horizontal seats. Not sure of what to expected at the sometimes overcrowded airport in South Florida’s largest city I arrived at the Iberia counter three hours early. Check-in was speedy and I was pleased to discover I had been assigned an aisle seat as I had requested.
L’Escalier, the flagship restaurant of the Breakers Palm Beach resort, offered a well prepared, well served, molecular gastronomy meal in an elegant, intimate and contemporary setting. Our midweek end of season visit was rewarding. We especially enjoyed the luxury of dining in a quiet dining room with attentive and guest centered service. Dinner at L’Escalier was the culinary highlight of our three night stay at the Palm Beach resort.