Meet Inés Powell

Watch Metropolitan Museum of Art educator and popular Travel with the Met lecturer Inés Powell reflect on her Spanish homeland in this Connections episode, produced by the Museum—and join her on a nine-night tour from Brussels to Amsterdam in October.  “Anytime that I feel a little bit nostalgic about Spain,”  she notes in the video clip, “all I have to do is walk around the galleries.” And, anytime that you want to thrill at seeing art, especially European art of a certain age, turn to Inés Powell!

Originally from Bilbao and trained at NYU Institute of Fine Arts, what really gets Inés Powell going is 17th-Century European Painting.  She was still in graduate school when she gave her first gallery talk at the Met and today, almost thirty years later, she’s developed a devoted following for both her talks at the Met and her lectures on Travel with the Met tours around the world.

She will next lecture next on Belgium & The Netherlands, October 11 to 21, 2015, including Brussels and Antwerp and a visit to the recently reopened Mauritshuis in The Hague (where Girl with a Pearl Earring is back on display!).

Belgium & the Netherlands:
In Search of Flourishing Genre Painting

338_thumb_5Discover outstanding museums and palaces in Holland and Belgium. Begin in Brussels, where highlights include a tour of the Museum of Fine Arts and a chocolate-making demonstration. In Ghent, admire the magnificent Cathedral of St. Bavo and Jan and Hubert van Eyck’s famous Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, better known as the Ghent Altarpiece. Stop in Antwerp to visit the Rubens House, Rockox House, and Museum Mayer van den Bergh. In The Hague, with its stately townhouses, see the outstanding collection at the newly reopened Mauritshuis, home to Vermeer’s celebrated Girl with a Pearl Earring. Marvel at works by Bruegel the Elder, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh at Rotterdam’s Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum. In charming Haarlem, explore the Frans Hals Museum, with the world’s largest collection of works by the Golden Age artist, and the Teylers Museum, the first and oldest museum in the Netherlands. Conclude in Amsterdam with visits to the Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt House Museum, and Museum van Loon. Sample Dutch cheese during a specially arranged tasting, and enjoy an excursion to stunning Het Loo Palace.

Belgium_Netherlands_coverOther highlights during this exceptional journey include a private tour and lunch at Chateau Beloeil and an after-hours, behind-the-scenes visit and private dinner at Panorama Mesdag. In addition, we are planning an opportunity to draw at the Boijmans Van Beuningen with a museum instructor.  Click here for a PDF of the trip brochure. For additional details about this tour, please contact Abigail Grazl at (212) 514-8921 or


Top Hotels for Chocolate Lovers

Chocolate flowChocolate is one of the most popular confections for Valentine’s Day. Luckily, lots of hotels cater to people who enjoy eating this sweet treat — and not just on February 14th, but all year long. Here’s a round-up of some of our favorites around the globe.

Spa at Boucan in St. LuciaBoucan Hotel at Rabot Estate Cocoa Plantation, St. Lucia 

Located on a cocoa estate on the stunning island of St. Lucia, the Boucan Hotel offers great experiences for chocolate connoisseurs. For a fee, guests can take a guided tour of the cocoa groves, select ripe cocoa pods and make their own chocolate bars. The hotel’s spa features treatments that use cocoa beans, and the restaurant’s menu includes items such as chocolate tasting plates.

Exterior of Langham BostonLangham Hotel, Boston, MA         

This historic hotel in downtown Boston is known for an “all-you-can-enjoy” chocolate bar. On Saturdays, the Café Fleuri at the Langham serves up a variety of tempting chocolate creations. Currently, the hotel is also offering a special Chocolate Bar Package.

SachertorteHotel Sacher, Vienna, Austria

This luxury hotel in Vienna is home to the original Sachertorte, one of Vienna’s most famous culinary specialties. The dense chocolate cake was invented in 132 by Franz Sacher, a 16-year-old chef’s apprentice, for Prince Wenzel von Metternich. Find out more about the legendary torte in our August 2013 blog post.

Etruscan Chocohotel breakfastEtruscan Chocohotel, Perugia, Italy 

Located in charming Perugia, the Etruscan Chocohotel describes itself as “completely dedicated to chocolate.”  In the lobby, the Chocostore sells sweets and chocolate-related items.  The hotel’s restaurant serves “ typical Umbrian cuisine and ChocoMenù: a Cocoa Menu from appetizers to desserts, ” and the breakfast room features “a big jar of Nutella and many other specialties, where chocolate is the undisputed protagonist.”

Spa at Hotel HersheyHotel Hershey, Hershey, PA 

An official resort at Hershey Park, the Hotel Hershey has a variety of experiences that will delight chocoholics.  Guests can start their day with a specialty coffee and chocolate pastries at the Cocoa Beanery, and the resort’s spa is known for treatments such as the “cocoa massage” and “chocolate fondue wrap.”  In February, the hotel has special chocolate-infused dinners, chef demos and other sweet events.

Thon Hotels, Belgium       

Belgium is famous for chocolate, and the Thon Hotels group is offering a special package deal that includes a night at a hotel, breakfast and metro tickets for two, and entrance to the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate.  The museum delves into the history of chocolate and how cocoa ended up in Europe, and a highlight is a demonstration by a master chocolate-maker on how traditional pralines are created.

Chocolate boutique hotelChocolate Boutique Hotel, UK 

Situated in Bournemouth in the UK, the Chocolate Boutique Hotel has a variety of chocolate events such as workshops on how to make Belgian truffles, as well as special Valentine’s packages and a chocolate weekend.  The package includes two nights in a “chocolate-themed bedroom,” a luxury chocolate tasting, truffle making and more.

Bellagio, Las Vegas 

Known for the Fountains of Bellagio, the famous Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas is also home to the world’s largest chocolate fountain. The floor-to-ceiling fountain, which is located at Jean-Philippe Patisserie, features “a spectacular series of melted chocolate cascades.” The bakery sells crepes, gelato and various pastries. Click here for a video of the chocolate fountain.

Featured Trip: Dutch & Flemish Landscapes, April 13 to 23, 2013

One of our favorite programs each year is Dutch & Flemish Landscapes , a spectacular springtime voyage along the waterways of the Netherlands and Belgium. Here are a few of the highlights of the trip:

Hotel Des IndesStay at the Hotel Des Indes in The Hague

Before boarding M.S. AmaLyra, travelers spend two nights in The Hague at the historic Hotel Des Indes. Built in 1858 as a city palace and operating as a hotel since 1881, it is located near restaurants and shopping. In 2006, the hotel underwent extensive renovations. Condé Nast Traveler described the overhaul as “a shrewd and sexy makeover that doesn’t compromise the old-world atmosphere.”

bruggeSavor lunch at the Duc de Bourgogne

A day in Bruges, a medieval gem laced with canals and gardens, includes a gourmet lunch at the Duc de Bourgogne, which overlooks the waterways. This famous restaurant features seasonal and fresh vegetables, meat and fish every day. The restaurant, whose history extends back to the 17th century, is currently managed by the De Vadder-Calleeuw family, among the top restaurant owners in Bruges.

Kroller-Muller Visit the Kröller-Müller Museum

The late art critic John Russell called the Kröller-Müller Museum “the best of its kind in the world.” A treasure house of modern art, it is located in the 5,500-hectare Hoge Veluwe National Park , home to freely roaming red deer, wild boars and other animals.  The museum’s collections include works by Vincent Van Gogh as well as George Seurat, Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger and Piet Mondrian.

Far East Meets Northern Europe

Sweden seems an unlikely place for a Chinese pavilion. However, the grounds of Stockholm’s Drottningholm Palace are home to an extraordinary Chinese-inspired edifice constructed in 1753. At the time, trade with the Far East was booming, and Europeans were fascinated by all things Asian.

Chinese Pavilion at Drottningholm Palace

The structure, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was built by King Adolf Fredrik as a birthday present for Queen Lovisa Ulrika. The surprised queen described the pleasure palace as “the most beautiful you can see.”

During the 1760s, the original Chinese Pavilion, a prefabricated wooden house, was replaced by a sturdier one, which has a rococo interior with Oriental influences.  The historic landmark made news headlines in 2010, when thieves broke into the building, shattered display cases and stole a number of valuable Chinese objects.

The pavilion at Drottningholm isn’t the only Chinese-influenced structure constructed by European royalty. In the early 1900s, Belgium’s King Leopold II created a Chinese Pavilion in Brussels. Today it is part of the Museums of the Far East, which house a fine collection of Asian ceramics and art.

Slow Going: Travel by Riverboat

There’s no disco on a riverboat, no rock climbing wall, no water park, no casino and no choice of 25 restaurants. What you do get is a serene vacation, a cabin with a water view, personalized attention and meals handcrafted with locally sourced ingredients and wines.

Riverboats can maneuver into smaller ports thereby allowing direct entrée to exquisite places like châteaux, floating markets and vineyards. You have immediate access to the imposing cathedrals and masterpieces of art in the charming villages on your route. Join a walking tour or grab a bike and go explore – no need to travel out of the way to get to where a big cruise ship can dock, and then tender back and forth in a sea of people.

No crowds, no herding, no hurry. Just sophisticated, like-minded travelers who discuss Rotterdam’s inventive architecture or the van Goghs seen in Arles that day.

Take time to smell the tulips on a glorious springtime cruise along Dutch and Belgian waterways. Admire chateau gardens, Roman ruins and the enchanting cities and pastoral landscapes of Provence.

I bet you won’t miss for a minute getting lost en route to the ice show or waiting more than an hour to disembark.

By Anastasia Mills Healy