Villa Alma Pacifica

The view goes forever!


St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

As you enter the secluded world of Bougainvillea - into this villa's breathtaking interiors, a mesmerizing postcard panorama of azure pool, ocean and sky will stop you in your tracks. Spectacular! This four-bedroom luxury villa, set right on its own strand of southside seashore, is a welcome addition to our St. Thomas portfolio of luxury properties.

Bougainvillea, St. Thomas

Private luxury

Bougainvillea is set into a very private and beautifully landscaped cul-de-sac behind an electronic gate on 1-1/2 landscaped acres offering sunrise and sunset views. The property is bordered by 300 feet of pebble beach adjoined by a deck and a 100-foot concrete dock with swim ladder for easy access to excellent snorkeling, (for experienced divers only),on undisturbed coral reefs teeming with sea life. On the upper level's landing is a wet bar with a mini-fridge, so convenient to the expansive terrace just outside. This central gathering spot, which overlooks wide-angled sea views, is set with comfortable seating for everyone and is swept by cool island tradewinds. It's the ideal place to catch another glorious tropical sunset, icy drink in hand. Relax and discuss the day's pleasures before sitting down to dinner together. The gentle waves roll into shore below, soothing you after another sun-kissed day in Paradise, and on a clear evening, you may even see the lights of St. Croix wink forty miles to the south. Bougainvillea combines plush comfort with plentiful amenities, should you wish to simply read, nap and relax. You may beachcomb for shells and driftwood along the coral and pebble beach below, swim and snorkle off the dock, or trek the gated path to Green Cay, just 400 feet away next door, to enjoy its usually-deserted white sand beach.

Bougainvillea, St. Thomas

Comfort melds with nature

Bougainvillea is lavishly furnished with original art, elegant ethnic and island furnishings, and is finished to a very high standard. Its unique design provides a pleasing balance of space and privacy. Although in a peaceful residential neighborhood with almost complete privacy from surrounding homes, it is located only a few minutes' drive from Havensite Mall and to the spectacular new Yacht Haven Grande Marina complex, both offering high-end duty-free shopping. It's in its own private world, inspiring romance and quality family time. Don't miss the special and ultra-luxurious island experience Bougainvillea offers with such panache! (Please note: Children are welcome. However, a notarized liability waiver is required for all children under 8 years.)

Bougainvillea, St. Thomas

Lavishly furnished interiors

Amenities include: 6 flat-screen TVS, all offering premium cable channels, 6 DVD/CD players including cable TV + DVD/CD players in all 4 bedrooms. The media room has a 50" TV and the exercise room has a 36" TV. You’ll find iPod docks in both the kitchen and the media room, and the entire villa is wired for Bose surround sound. Sony Playstation, an extensive movie and music collection, books, and games give vacationers lots of choices for free time. A/C is in all the bedrooms, the media room, and the exercise room. There is a DSL line, and Wi-Fi throughout the villa, on the decks and verandah, and a printer/scanner/fax and answering machine. Other amenities include a gourmet kitchen with wine cooler and mini-fridge; jacuzzi bathtub and multi-head rain shower in upper-level king master suite, hair dryers, a safe for valuables; an automatic generator, electronic security gate, dishwasher, laundry, and a wet bar with a mini-fridge on the upper level. The air conditioned exercise room has a Pacific Fitness Universal Trainer, Smooth Ergometric Cross Trainer, Schwinn Airdyne Windsprint stationary bicycle, 2 large exercise balls, yoga mat, jump rope, elastic bands, and assorted free weights. For outdoor living, you’ll find a gas grill, beach chairs, and a picnic basket with blanket and cooler on wheels. The villa sits on 300 feet of pebble shoreline, with a beach shower, Trex deck and a 70-foot concrete pier with swim ladder for great snorkeling among live reefs and rocks – (for experienced/advanced snorkelers who are good swimmers only!). Note: the concrete stairway to the beach is 113 steps, with three landings.



A primer on passports, Part II


A recent article in The Washington Post, written by Andrea Sachs, gives some valuable information about the process of getting a passport. Our July 2008 issue of the newsletter includes Part I.

Who must apply in person, and what is the process?
If any of the following apply to you, then head to your nearest passport facility:

  • You're a first-time applicant.
  • Your passport was lost, stolen or damaged. (If lost or stolen you must also complete form DS-64.)
  • Your old passport expired and was issued more than 15 years ago or when you were younger than 16.
  • Your name has changed since your last passport was issued and you do not have the legal documentation to prove it.
  • You're a minor, 14 to 17 years old.

A parent or legal guardian (with ID) must be present if the teenager does not have acceptable identification. Parental consent also may be requested. For children younger than 16, consent and/or appearance by both parents or legal guardians is required, as is proof of relationship, such as their names on the child's certified birth certificate. And, yes, even newborns and toddlers need a passport and must be present when their parents apply on their behalf.

Application materials include form DS-11 (but unlike the mail-in, do not sign it until the passport official gives the word), proof of U.S. citizenship, including a birth or naturalization certificate, among other official documents, personal identification, such as a valid driver's license or military ID, two 2-by-2-inch passport photos taken in the past six months, and payment of $100 if 16 or older, or $85 if younger than 16.

Where do I go to apply in person?
There are more than 9000 passport acceptance facilites nationwide, including many federal, state and probate courts, post offices, public libraries and county and municipal offices. The department's web site, will help you find outposts in your neighborhood.

I'm in a hurry – my trip is in a few weeks!
For expedited service, you can apply by mail or in person. For the mail-in, send in the requisite materials plus an additional $60 and overnight delivery costs. Write "Expedited" on the envelope; no proof of departure is required. To ensure timely delivery – three weeks door to door – splurge on two-way overnight delivery. If you're leaving in two weeks or less, don't risk the mail. Instead, make an appointment with a Passport Agency. Bring with you all of the necessary documents and the extra $60. For even faster – but costlier – service, employ a private company that can deliver your passport in a jiffy, say 24 hours. American Passport Express (800-841-6778,, for one, lists turnaround times of one to two days, or up to 12 days. Prices vary depending on your situation and how quickly you need it.

Where can I find additional help?
For advice or a status report on your application, contact the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778 or check online. The site will let you know whether your application has been received by Passport Services and about when to expect your passport. Currently, it is taking about a week to 10 days for an application to be tracked online.

What changes are coming in the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative?
Last year, the U.S. Government implemented the first phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which requires Americans to carry a passport when traveling by air to and from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean region. The second part of the initiative, which covers travel by land or sea to the above areas, is scheduled to start this summer. Trips to such U.S. territories as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are exempt from the initiative.

border patrol

In additional, on January 31, 2008, the government stopped accepting oral declarations of U.S. citizenship at the border. Now, Americans 19 or older must present an official ID, such as a driver's license, and proof of citizenship, such as an official birth certificate. Those 18 and younger need to show only proof of citizenship.

Applications are now being accepted for the Passport Card, a wallet-size ID that can be used instead of a passport for land and sea crossings in WHTI regions. The card, which is now being sent out, costs $20 for adults with a passport, $45 for adults without a passport and $35 for kids without a passport. It is valid for 10 years for adults, 5 years for children 15 or younger.

The State Department is issuing Electronic Passports, or e-passports, which facilitate biometric comparison at borders. The document is a techy version of the traditional passport, with an embedded computer chip that contains all crucial data, plus a digital photograph and anti-fraud and security features. Chip-less passports will be accepted until their expiration date.


family in Mexico

Cabo has an amazing coastline

Flamboyant Mexico,
Part II

The people of Mexico are extremely social, and work is never given importance over friends and family. Mothers are honored and respected above everyone else in the family, and children are celebrated and doted on.

The country of Mexico is well known for its food. Corn, beans and potatoes are the staples, with fish and chicken on most menus. Tortillas, enchiladas, and tacos are main-stays. The legal drinking age is 18. Rum and tequila are used to concoct refreshing fruit drinks, and beer is popular. As in any Latin American destination, nightlife doesn't really get started until late, and shops are often closed mid-afternoon for the traditional "siesta".

Grey Whales

Grey whales cavort near Baja

Most visitors arrive in Mexico via air. Mexico's two flagship airlines are Mexicana and Aeromexico. Their safety records are comparable to major US and European airlines. Around 30 Mexican cities receive direct flights from North America and Canada, and Mexico City and Cancun receive direct flights from Europe. Becoming more and more popular, cruise ships now bring over seven million passengers a year to Mexican ports. The main ports of call receive over 100 cruisers a year, and Puerto Vallarta gets over 200!

Taxis are common in almost every town and city in Mexico, and very economical. But it's a good idea to agree on a price for a destination before hiring a cab driver. Remember, haggling is expected. If you choose to rent a car, the minimum driving age is 18. Either an International Driving Permit or a full national driving license is required.

89% of the population is Roman Catholic. Many of the public holidays are tied to the religious persuasion of the people. From October to May, the public holidays are listed below.

    October 12 Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day)
    November 2 Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
    November 19 Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution of 1910
    December 12 Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe
    December 25 Christmas Day
    January 1 New year's Day
    February 4 Constitution Day
    March 17 Birthday of Benito Juarez
    March 20 Maundy Thursday
    April 10 Good Friday, 2009
    April 12 Easter, 2009
    May 1 Labor Day
    May 5 Anniversary of Battle of Puebla
(Cinco de Mayo)

Money in Mexico comes in pesos. The peso is divided into 100 centavos. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50 centavos, and 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 pesos. Notes come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 pesos. US Dollars are still the most easily exchangeable foreign currency in Mexico. ATM's are everywhere and a good way to get cash. Some businesses and restaurants do not accept credit cards (especially American Express) so it's wise to carry some traveler's cheques and/or cash in your pocket. To give you an idea of actual costs in Mexico in general, take a look:

    City metro single fare 0.25 USD
    Litre of petrol 0.60 USD
    1 litre bottle of water 0.60 USD
    36 fresh tortillas 0.45 USD
    street taco 1.00 USD
    internet access per hour 1.00 USD
    local small car rental 60.00 USD
    5 hour first class bus ride 23.00 USD

Shopping is available everywhere. You'll find everything from fashionable clothing boutiques to open air markets. Good buys include ceramics and pottery, woven wool blankets called sarapes, brightly colored scarves in wool or silk, beautiful tooled leather, silver and turquoise jewelry, and richly embroidered charro hats. Come to Mexico, and enjoy this flamboyant culture!



Emmanuel & family

Emmanuel & family

Dear Travelers,

The cicadas singing in the distance remind me of how wonderful summer is in Southern France! It's been a few weeks since our arrival there, but the Riviera and Mediterranean weather was so good to us! Sunshine, friends, fresh fruits and vegetables from the market: what better summer experience could you ask for?

Our two week trip into Italy took us first to Venice and then to Tuscany where we rented two large villas on a big estate near Siena, with a group of friends and family. It was a great success and we're already looking at renewing the experience next year, maybe in a Chateau in the Dordogne region of France! This summer we searched for some unique, luxurious villas on the Riviera, in Provence and Tunisia. We're anxious to unveil our "finds" sometime this Fall, so prepare to be tempted with some new, choice properties!

We hope that all of you are enjoying your summer and will start dreaming of summers to come!

Happy travels,

Emmanuel and Cori and family



Villa Nuovo

View of Lake Maggiore

Villa Nuovo

Italian Lakes District

Located in Lesa, on the Lake Maggiore coastal road, Villa Nuovo is a detached modern villa just a few meters from the lake. The villa is accessed from the main road through a gate. From there, steps lead up to the beautiful garden (800 m2) flourishing with flowers and trees. As you ascend a few stairs through the garden you come to the front door and entrance hall. The front hall opens into a spacious living room with two full walls of large windows offering panoramic views over the lake. The living room has a fireplace and dining table for 8. Directly off the living room you can step out onto a terrace/patio with outdoor furniture and a table for 15 people. The kitchen is fully equipped and has a family dining room (table for 6) and a powder room. Also on the ground floor, one master double bedroom with access to the terrace and lake view; one twin, and 2 single bedrooms; 2 bathrooms, one with shower and the other with tub + shower. Upstairs is a simple and functional twin-bedded room with bathroom (shower). Enjoy watching the sailboats on Lake Maggiore from your own private villa in the verdant Lakes Region of northern Italy.

Note: 2 weeks minimum rental in August.

"The Villa was Top-Notch. Great location! The owner was very nice and informative."

- TP, Wall, NJ.

"The house was delightful. The photos and description on the website do not do it justice. The view from the porch, living room and master bedroom is fantastic! The owner was very helpful."

- TU, Atherton, CA.

"The house was great and the owners were great as well. Our experience was excellent!"

- CR, Oakland, CA.



wine coolers

Delicious and refreshing

Sparkling Wine Coolers

Chilled champagne cocktails are a special but easy way to start an evening with friends. Use a medium-priced dry Champagne or other sparkling wine. You can substitute another fruit-flavored liqueur for the melon liqueur, such as peach, apple, or pear.

4 Tbsp (2 fl oz) chilled Midori melon liqueur
1 bottle (24 fl oz) chilled Champagne or other sparkling wine
4 orange zest twists
4 small fresh mint sprigs

Put 4 tall, narrow glasses in the freezer to chill for at least 15 minutes. When ready to serve, pour 1 tablespoon of the melon liqueur into each chilled glass. Slowly fill the glasses with Champagne and garnish each with a twist of orange zest and a mint sprig.


For a Little Laugh

a little laugh


Newsletter Editor: Kathy Hayes

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