In the heart of historic Charleston, the Belmond Charleston Place is known for its ultra-luxurious accommodations and distinctive Southern-yet-cosmopolitan style. Personally, we find it hard to resist a sunset cocktail on the hotel’s rooftop terrace, a jazzfilled evening at the Charleston Grill or a lemongrass body scrub in the spa.
In case you don’t know, Belmond, formerly known as the Orient-Express, owns 49 iconic hotels, trains and river cruises in 24 countries. We recently had occasion to experience two of Belmond’s properties in Peru, where we discovered that, as in Charleston, one of the secrets to Belmond’s success—apart from unsurpassed service—is its ability to draw inspiration from local history and culture.
The Sanctuary Lodge at Machu Picchu is just steps from the entrance to the fabled Incan archeological site. (In fact, the Sanctuary has the distinction of being the only hotel on the mountain.) You won’t stay here on a backpacker’s budget, but the opportunity to spend the night in comfort and wake up to the sun rising over the mist-covered peaks makes it worth the price. (Plus, you can drink all the refreshing pisco sours you want.) The rooms, decorated in soft greens and golds, bring in the lush outdoors, while the kitchen serves outstanding Peruvian dishes, artfully presented.
Several hours away by train is Cusco, a 15th-century Incan city that the Spanish took for their own. The Belmond Monasterio, once a 16th-century monastery (now a national landmark), is tucked away on a quiet street in the heart of the city’s historic center. The central cloister, with its massive 300-year-old cedar tree, is a wonderful place for lunch or cocktails. Stay here and you’ll feel like a very wealthy archbishop! Massive colonial-era paintings of archangels, saints and bishops dominate guest rooms and public spaces. In the lobby bar or cloister, you can relax and listen to soothing Gregorian chant. belmond.com
Through March 3, 2018, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston will feature the work of Cuban multidisciplinary artist Roberto Diago, who lives and works in Havana.
Diago’s work takes aim at racism in Cuba. It explores the roots and role of slavery in Cuban history and, among other things, examines the aftereffects of slavery in the 21st century. The artist has been featured at the Cooper Gallery, Harvard University; the 47th Venice Biennale; various Havana Biennales; the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana; and many galleries and museums around the world.
Diago will be in residence before his Halsey exhibition opens, and the residency and exhibition will be part of a much larger college-wide interdisciplinary project with a focus on Cuba, entitled “Cuba en el Horizonte.” This will include special topics courses, lectures and performances across numerous departments of the college over an entire semester.
The exhibition will run from January 19 – March 3, 2018. For more information, call 843-953- 4422. halsey.cofc.edu
WORLD’S LARGEST OYSTER FESTIVAL
Named one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast” by the Southeastern Tourism Society, the 2018 Lowcountry Oyster Festival will be held January 28 at Boone Hall Plantation. The festival benefits local charities.
Why go to an outdoor oyster festival in the middle of the winter? For food and fun. According to Jenny Peppler, member and special events coordinator at the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, this casual, family- friendly event draws thousands of visitors every year (last year some 10,000). This year the festival will bring in over 80,000 pounds of steamed oysters from local and national purveyors, a variety of food options from local restaurants and food trucks, and entertainment for adults and children.
Event highlights include the legendary “oyster shucking” and “oyster eating” contests, live music on the main stage, local wine and beer, and the Pluff-a-Pallooza childrens’ area, where kids enjoy pluff mud arts and crafts, live theater performances, sweetgrass basket weaving … to name a few. Bring your own oyster knife or purchase one at the festival. Even if you’ve never shucked an oyster, a volunteer can show you how!
Tickets are available online ($17.50 in advance), as well as at Boone Hall Farms or any Charleston visitors’ center. charlestonrestaurantassociation .com/lowcountry-oyster-festival
INTO THE WILD
Since 1983, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) has staged a three-day celebration of wildlife and nature in Charleston that features fine art, conservation education and sporting demonstrations. SEWE plays host to artists, exhibitors and experts in wildlife and nature art who are eager to share their expertise with some 40,000 expected attendees from across the country. The event this year takes place February 16 – 18.
Kathryn Mapes Turner has been selected as the Featured Artist. Her painting, Unbridled, will be the featured painting and illustrate the event’s official poster. Born and raised in Grand Teton National Park, Turner derives much inspiration from the epic landscapes and wildlife of the West.
This year marks the inauguration of the Award for Conservation Excellence (ACE). ACE recognizes individuals who have dedicated their lives to conservation and to the sustainability of the world’s remaining wild places and species. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in the Charleston Gaillard Center on February 14.
SEWE is also excited about welcoming back television personality, author and conservationist Jack Hanna. He and his team from the Columbus Zoo have made frequent appearances on shows like The Late Show with Dave Letterman, Larry King Live and CNN news programs. This year they will offer three performances at the Gaillard Center.
Every year, the Center for Birds of Prey offers some of SEWE’s most entertaining shows. A variety of raptors, such as falcons, eagles, owls and hawks, will demonstrate their flying abilities at Marion Square, accompanied by narration.
New this year at SEWE will be sheep- and duck-herding demonstrations at Brittlebank Park. Windy Knolls Farm owner Bill Coburn will showcase his collies and their instinctive ability to muster both sheep and ducks through a variety of obstacles. What fun! For more information, call 843-723-1748. sewe.com