Melanie Nayer

Correspondent

  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Melanie Nayer is a correspondent who lives in Boston and covers hotels, food, wine and luxury travel trends for Forbes Travel Guide. She is a contributing columnist at various publications, including The Huffington Post, Wine Enthusiast, The Boston Globe and Robb Report, among others. Nayer worked as a community, political and economics reporter for leading publications, including Fortune Magazine and NYTimes.com, and has been quoted as an expert on travel by CNN.com, ABC.com and MSNBC.com.

  • On September 18, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What is the best food experience in Sanya?

    Sanya’s seaside location means there’s an abundance of fresh seafood available, so while you’re here follow the locals’ lead and check out the bustling seafood markets for the ultimate food experience in this tropical city in southern China.
     
    Sanya’s dried seafood markets sell squid, tuna, shrimp and other exotic creatures from the sea. Many Chinese people believe that dried seafood has medicinal value, so you’ll often see locals buying it in huge quantities. Word to the wise: If you think the regular seafood section of your local grocery store has a distinct odor, prepare yourself for Sanya’s seafood markets, where the potent, pungent smells can be intense.
     
    If you want to skip the seafood shopping and go straight to the tasting, head to Chuyuan Seafood Square, where you’ll find nearly 100 private stalls and booths preparing and serving fresh seafood throughout the day. You can even rent your own hot pot here and steam your own food.
     
    Another of Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ favorite food experiences in Sanya is the First Market, which is the largest market in the city and a fun place to browse fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood and spices seven days a week. You’ll see a lot of things here you probably never thought you’d see, such as the insides of chickens neatly laid out on chicken carcasses and live snails and sea creatures still swarming around. Some of it may seem strange, but remember that many of the foods you might not consider eating are delicacies in this part of the world.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    Where is the best nightlife in Sanya?

    Thanks to its growing reputation as one of the most idyllic beach destinations in southern China, Sanya has a nightlife scene that seems to shift in different directions by the week as new bars, restaurants and resorts open their doors and offer varying types of entertainment and events. For now, our Forbes Travel Guide editors think the best nightlife in Sanya is on Yuya Avenue in Sanya City, where you’ll find bars and clubs open until the wee hours of the morning. Many restaurants here have outdoor seating, too, so you can enjoy the scene without having to wait in any long lines to get into some of the most popular spots.
     
    If late nights on the town is not your thing, or you don’t want to worry about arranging transportation to and from your hotel, keep in mind that many upscale hotels and resorts in Sanya also have some form of onsite nightlife, from live beach entertainment and dance clubs to cigar and wine bars.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What is the best way to see Sanya in one day?

    The most popular thing to do in Sanya is to spend the day on the beach or to get out in the water for some fun in the South China Sea. With that said, our Forbes Travel Guide editors feel the best way to see Sanya in one day is to take a short break from the beach and see some of the other worthwhile sights in the city.
     
    First, get an early start and head to First Market to experience local food shopping at its most intense. You’ll see everything from fish and poultry to spices and seasonings, and on occasion live cooking demos and food tastings as well. Even if you’re not planning to purchase anything, a visit to this market is a treat for the senses.
     
    Next, visit the Pearl Market to see how seawater pearls are crafted and cultivated and to try your luck at haggling over the price of a string of pearls. Have lunch at one of the nearby cafés or restaurants lining the street – your hotel concierge can provide recommendations – then plan to hike through one of Sanya’s natural rainforests. You’ll wander through various wetlands and climates on this small island adventure, encountering various wildlife along the way if you’re lucky and being treated to some spectacular views. The rest of the afternoon can be spent relaxing and freshening up back in your hotel.
     
    Some of the best dinners in Sanya can be found at the excellent restaurants located in luxury hotels such as Mandarin Oriental, Sanya and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Sanya. Try the seafood at the appropriately named Fresh at the former or, for a break from seafood and Cantonese cuisine, head to Sofia at the latter for delicious southern Italian fare in a romantic setting. If you still have enough energy after dinner, a walk along the beach, with sparkling Sanya behind you, is a wonderful way to finish off the day.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    Where is the best shopping in Sanya?

    There are plenty of shopping opportunities in Sanya, where you can browse everything from seawater pearls to boutique fashion. Be sure to stop by these three spots recommended by our Forbes Travel Guide editors for the best shopping in Sanya.
     
    1. Pearl Market. Most stores have pearls for sale, but be sure to get the real thing – imitation pearls abound, particularly from vendors crawling the beach. If you’re not sure how to spot a fake, bring a local guide with you, or first pay a visit to the Haiyu Pearl Factory, where you can learn about the pearl cultivation process and know you’re buying the real thing. Many Chinese women believe that pearls have extensive beauty benefits, so you’ll likely see pearls and pearl powders available in various lotions, too. These powders work like aloe vera, which is great when you need to relieve a sunburn after a long day at the beach.
     
    2. Jiefang Road. The pedestrian-only Jiefang Road is the best place to fill out your fashion wardrobe and to poke around clusters of boutiques and shops offering everything from electronic appliances to makeup.
     
    3. Fish Markets. If you don’t mind the pungent smell, take a walk through Sanya’s fish markets. First Market is where you’ll find live fish and poultry, as well as spices, cooking demos, cookbooks and kitchenware. This is where many local chefs shop for ingredients used in their restaurants.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Sanya?

    Between playing at the beach, splashing around in the water and going for nature walks you’ll have no trouble keeping kids happy and entertained during a vacation in Sanya, particularly if you put our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the five best things to do with kids in Sanya on your itinerary.
     
    1. Snorkeling. Ask your hotel concierge about planned snorkeling excurions into the South China Sea. Kids will love gazing at the colorful underwater life and stunning corals just beneath their feet.
     
    2. Hiking. Sanya has many hiking trails, most of which are just a short ride from the beach. Our favorite time of the day to hit the trails is in the morning – again, ask your hotel about organized hikes with local guides who are familiar with the area to ensure you get the best views and walk trails with kid-friendly difficulty levels.
     
    3. Rainforests. Sanya’s rainforests, which are located across from the built-up beach area, are a great place to spot exotic animals and explore miles of wetlands.
     
    4. Butterfly Valley. Sanya’s Butterfly Valley is located on Yalong Bay and features 1,000 square meters of space filled with colorful butterflies fluttering through the air. Take your kids to the open-air cage, where they can be surrounded by the butterflies, and walk through the large exhibition hall that has various species of butterflies on display.
     
    5. Tianyahaijiao Tourism Zone. The Tianyahaijiao Tourism Zone features an ocean park, shopping area and hotels. This is one of the most heavily frequented areas in Sanya thanks to the endless activities available here – your hotel’s concierge should be able to provide recommendations for the most kid-friendly things to do and see here.
  • On September 18, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are the five best things to see and do in Sanya?

    You’ll be tempted to do little more in Sanya than spend your afternoons lounging around at the beach, but there’s much more to do and see in this seaside city. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors think these are the five best things to do in Sanya – including sinking your toes into the sand.
     
    1. Golfing. Hainan Island in Sanya has nearly 30 golf courses, including the championship-caliber Yalong Bay Golf Club, which was designed by famed course architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula Golf Club, a scenic 36-hole course designed by Tom Weiskopf.
     
    2. Snorkeling. The calm waters of the South China Sea off the coast of Sanya make for perfect snorkeling conditions. Ask the concierge at your hotel for recommendations on planned trips.
     
    3. Spas. While we wouldn’t advocate spending too much time indoors while you’re relaxing at an island known for its 300 days of annual sunshine, we don’t feel you should pass up the opportunity to visit a luxury spa in Sanya. Massages are available right on the beach, but the spas at luxury hotels such as Mandarin Oriental, Sanya and Banyan Tree Sanya have well-trained therapists who can knead your worries away in serene surroundings.
     
    4. Beaches. Sanya is surrounded by soft, white-sand beaches, so plan to spend at least one day soaking up some sun while you’re in Sanya. If possible try to wake up early to watch the sunrise, when the sky is awash in colorful purple and pink hues and casts a beautiful glow on the white sand.

    5. Markets. Even if you’re not planning to buy anything it’s well worth taking a stroll through some of the most popular markets in Sanya, including First Market (food) and Pearl Market (pearl jewelry).
  • On September 9, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are the best things to see and do in Phuket?

    You’re going to find yourself pulled in many different directions during your trip to Phuket — beaches, snorkeling, day trips, city tours — so to help ensure you hit the highlights, our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend putting these things to see and do in Phuket at the top of your list:
     
    1. Big Buddha. The 45-meter high Big Buddha is one of the newest sights to dot the Phuket landscape — and one of its most revered treasures. You’ll be able to see it at its lofty locale in the Nakkerd Hills from many southern points on the island, but the scenic drive up through rural central Phuket is almost as rewarding as the unbelievable views you’ll enjoy from the site itself.

    2. Old Phuket Town. Head to this walkable section of bustling Phuket Town for a (temporary) break from the beach amid Sino-colonial architecture, maze-like markets and an abundance of cheerful Thai cafés. Bring your camera — this is one of the most photo-worthy parts of the city.

    3. Island hopping. Escape the sometimes overwhelming crowds on Phuket by booking a private tour through your hotel of the many idyllic islands located within a short speedboat ride of the coast. Enjoy snorkeling, picnicking and taking a dip in impossibly clear turquoise waters.

    4. Snorkeling in Phi Phi Islands. Speaking of snorkeling, Ko Phi Phi’s shallow waters and stunning coral gardens make it one of the best places near Phuket to get up close and personal with the area’s colorful underwater sea life. Public and private tours are available daily and can be booked through your hotel.

    5. Phuket Island & City Tour. One of the best ways to see the many sides of Phuket is with a planned city and island tour. This five-hour itinerary includes a cruise down the west coast along popular Patong, Karon, Kata and Rawai beaches, as well as stops at Phuket Town, Wang Thalang Lapidary gem factory, Mookda Herbal Center and a Buddhist temple. Be sure to inform the tour company of any specific sites you want to see ahead of time.
  • On September 9, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    Where is the best nightlife in Phuket?

    The nightlife in some areas of Phuket is likely quite unlike anything you see back home. There are plenty of bars, clubs and open-air restaurants lining the well-known beach towns on the island’s western coast, with Bangla Road in Patong Beach particularly popular with locals and tourists alike. You’ll be in the center of all the chaotic action here, with tourist-friendly bars and restaurants directly shouldering more seedy establishments.
     
    For a less adventurous nightlife experience, our Forbes Travel Guide editors think the Phuket Simon Cabaret show on Patong Beach is a lot of fun. One of the biggest “ladyboy” cabaret performances in the area, Phuket Simon Cabaret features fabulous costumes and music. It's endless entertainment.
     
    Of course, for a more low-key evening you can always simply stop by your hotel bar or visit another one nearby, since all resorts here have wine bars, cigar bars or beach bars that are open to the public.
  • On September 7, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    How do I get a reservation at Muse?

    Reservations at Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, located within the magnificently restored Vanderbilt Grace hotel, can be made at OpenTable.com or by calling the restaurant directly. Reservations at this fine-dining spot are highly recommended; you’ll also want to take heed of the Forbes Travel Guide-recommended restaurant’s dress code (jackets for gentlemen, and no jeans, sneakers or athletic wear).
     
    The summer months and the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s) are typically the busiest times in Newport, so we suggest you plan ahead if you’re visiting during this time and want to dine at Muse. And for those staying at Vanderbilt Grace, the hotel can also assist you with making dinner reservations.
  • On September 7, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What is the cancellation policy at Muse?

    Reservations are highly recommended for dinner at Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, especially during the high tourist summer season and around the holidays. The Newport mansions are a top visitor attraction in the coastal Rhode Island town and the Vanderbilt Grace, where Muse is located, is one of the most famous. If you’re visiting during the summer months or around the holidays, we suggest you reserve your table well in advance at this Forbes Travel Guide-recommended restaurant.
     
    Reservations are accepted from OpenTable.com and by calling the restaurant directly. There is no cancellation policy for small parties, but for private events you’ll be required to put down a credit card to hold a table.
  • On September 7, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What is the dress code at Muse?

    Just as the Vanderbilt’s might have dined, Muse by Jonathan Cartwright requests you dress for dinner. After all, this Forbes Travel Guide recommended restaurant is located in one of the most iconic mansions in all of New England — you might as well enjoy the ambiance in your finest attire.
     
    Jackets are suggested for gentlemen but ties are options. Muse does not seat patrons wearing jeans, sneakers or athletic wear, so plan appropriately before you show up for dinner (and don’t forget to wash up in the mansion’s spectacular bathrooms). Women will be comfortable in a cocktail dress or festive business attire.
  • On September 7, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What are the operating hours of Muse?

    Dining at Muse by Jonathan Cartwright is an special experience and, like most fine-dining restaurants in Newport, R.I., you’ll need to make a reservation at the Forbes Travel Guide recommended restaurant. Located inside the Vanderbilt Grace hotel (once the magnificent mansion where the Vanderbilts resided), Muse is open for dinner only and offers seatings Monday through Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 6 to 9:30 p.m. We suggest you start your evening with a walk along Newport’s famous Cliff Walk to see the grand exteriors of other 19th-century mansions and then head to the bar at Muse for the signature Grace Cocktail.
  • On September 7, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    Where is Muse located?

    Located in the historic Vanderbilt Grace hotel in Newport, R.I., Muse by Jonathan Cartwright is the latest creation by world-renowned chef Jonathan Cartwright. (Chef Cartwright is also the executive chef at Vanderbilt Grace’s sister hotel, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, Maine.)
     
    Muse is one of the premier Newport restaurants, and provides an excellent opportunity to explore one of the grand mansions this town is known for throughout New England. The mansion itself sits on Mary Street, not far from the waterfront and many of Newport’s attractions.
     
    While the food alone is worth a visit, we can’t help but plug the restaurant’s ambiance. There’s something special about dining in a 100-year-old mansion once lived in by one of the wealthiest families in America — order a martini or a flute of champagne, take in your surroundings and toast to something spectacular.
  • On September 6, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    Where are the best waterside restaurants in Newport?

    It’s hard not to stumble across waterfront dining in Newport. Whether you’re strolling around the boardwalks after a day at the beach, or you want something a little more formal, Forbes Travel Guide Editors found a slew of eateries with a water view in this Rhode Island coastal town.
     
    The West Deck, located at Waites Wharf, is a local favorite for watching the sunset over the water. Belly up to the bar and watch the chef cook the night’s specialties while the water dances the background.
    The Black Pearl on Bannister’s Wharf is where wine lovers will meet for rare bottles and unique pours on the water, but it’s the clam chowder that has people returning year after year.
     
    Muse at the Vanderbilt Grace hotel is located on the water, and while you won’t be able to overlook the ocean from your table inside this fine-dining spot, you’ll have a great views of the water during an after-dinner stroll along the magnificent Cliff Walk.
     
    Castle Inn and Resort is typically booked during the summer months for weddings and events, but if you’re here off-season you can grab a table at the resort’s restaurant or bar for sweeping views of the water.
     
    For a more low-key waterside dining experience, head to The Pier Restaurant off Thames Street. The street is famous for its bars and nightlife, but you can avoid the chaos by scoring a water view table at The Pier and kicking back with the restaurant’s live entertainment.
  • On September 6, 2012
    Melanie Nayer answered the question: Melanie Nayer

    What is the best way to experience Newport in a day?

    Whether you’re visiting Newport during the busy summer season or just driving through as part of a longer New England excursion, you’ll find plenty of unique things to do and see in this small coastal Rhode Island town.
     
    In the summer months, most people start the day at the beach. Head to one of the beaches (we like Easton’s, Sachuest and Third Beach) first thing and you have a good chance of scoring a good spot in the sandy. Thanks to the plethora of beachside restaurants in Newport, you won’t have to go far for lunch. Grab a stool at any of the bars that line the beach and enjoy some casual New England seafood, including lobster rolls, fried clams and oysters.
     
    Afternoons are best spent sailing, and if you can arrange your sail to coincide with sunset you’re in for a real treat. Sailing charters will take you around Newport harbor, past the Newport Mansions and out to the various lighthouses that line Rhode Island.
     
    Nighttime in Newport calls for something special, so we suggest making reservations at one of the several harbor side restaurants to end your day with a feast and a fabulous view.