Around the World: Insider Shopping Tips

 

Paris
Paris is a favorite among shoppers for homegoods, clothing, shoes and perfume.

    

Anne Morgan Scully, president, McCabe World Travel: I go to Paris at least once or twice a year and would never return without visiting my favorite shop. I never leave without finding that special treasure either for myself, family or friends.

Taormina
Taormina is the place to purchase unusual ceramics. Allow plenty of time to enjoy your walk through town.

The shop is La Maisonivre, a tiny jewel box on the Left Bank very close to the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. It’s filled with tea towels, tablecloths, napkins, pottery, and now some ceramic jewelry, all from Provence. Sylvine, the owner is lovely and always kind to all my clients. We have become good friends over the years. When I walk in the door, she’s always ready with a smile and her arms open to give me a hug. Back home, when I use one of the special pieces of pottery or a beautiful tablecloth from her shop, I am always reminded of my dear friend in Paris. This is more than a shop, it is a history of the artwork of Provence and the artists themselves.

 

Gary Stevens, vice president, Leaders in Travel: Shoe guy that I am, I found a fantastic store on my last trip to Paris, where a gorgeous pair of stylish European shoes won’t break the bank (as they do almost everywhere else throughout the city). Mirene Men’s Clothes & Shoes (76 Rue de Rivoli, Metro stop: Hotel de Ville) has a great selection at great prices. This whole area in and around Rue de Rivoli in the 4th arrondissement has boutiques and shops galore with fantastic outlet-like discounts. They had a special promotion of two pairs for €100 (I bought four). For the bucks I inevitably plop down in Paris with my Louis Vuitton addiction (although always priced lower here than in New York). It’s a welcome relief to find a store selling trendy Parisian styles at very reasonable rates.

Adrienne Forst , vice president, leisure sales, Protravel International, Beverly Hills: I love to shop in Turkey. If you like rugs, this is the place to buy them. If you like knock-offs, they have some great quality ones. In Kusadasi, there is a shop called The Twins. They’re in an alley off the main shopping street. The quality of the knock-off watches they sell (you have to ask to see them) is amazing.

New Orleans’ Magazine Street
New Orleans’ Magazine Street is an eclectic shopping district for unusual clothing items and gifts.

In Bangkok, go to the Jewelry Trade Center. It’s a high-rise building and you must have the name of a shop in order to enter the building. You can get this from your tour guide or the concierge in your hotel. Security is very high in the building; you need to produce a photo ID, such as your driver’s license, in order to go to the shop you want to visit. I have bought beautiful star sapphires there. If you buy unset stones, there is no duty to be paid when you reenter the U.S.

Deborah Bush, president, Park Avenue Travel: I love shopping for rugs in Turkey. It’s almost as much fun to watch the presentation of hundreds of rugs as it is to look forward to opening them when they arrive home. If you are seriously shopping, be sure to take measurements with you and photos of the room where the rug will reside.

I also enjoyed having suits and jackets custom-made in Shanghai. If you have a favorite style, take it with you and the skilled tailors can imitate it. Our friends at The Ritz-Carlton made it possible for us to shop in our room and we came home with beautiful suits and silk jackets, all finished in less than two days.

My favorite trinkets are the great Murano glass beads and pendants for sale just off St. Mark’s Square in Venice. They come in vibrant colors and make great, easy to carry, small gifts for everyone on your list.

Ken Neibaur, manager and luxury travel advisor at Cardoza-Bungey Travel: Kyoto has an amazing array of shops with reasonably priced wood-cut prints from the Edo and Meiji periods. Macau is a treasure trove of 19th-century collectibles at far lower prices than you’ll find in Hong Kong. I like to go to department stores in some places in Tokyo (Matsuya in the Ginza district). And art is a specialty in Asia. Nothing on the walls in our home came from our local area.

Jody Bear, owner, Bear & Bear Travel: One of my favorite pastime is shopping, if done right. Make sure you get some insider addresses, go to a fabulous place for lunch and, if you’re in a city you are not familiar with, organize transportation ahead of time. London is a great city to shop and Notting Hill is the place for one-stop shopping. Orlebar Brown has great men’s swimwear and is now dabbling in other clothing segments. Matches is a fab boutique for men and women designer fashions, Aesop for Aussie-based bath products and Daylesford Organic for kitchenware. All this shopping works up quite an appetite and Granger and Co. is so cool, so trendy and, best of all, so yummy.

London
London has so many places to shop for unique items, from quaint neighborhoods to the high streets.

 

Kate Murphy, president, Wings Travel Group: True to my “roots,” I love to shop in Dublin. I really enjoy going to Powerscourt Centre on South William Street because not only does it have some great shops and places to eat, it is also really beautiful. It was once a Georgian home and they actually conduct tours there. There are some nice boutiques, antiques stores, jewelry stores and there is even a doll store hospital and museum.

After a little shopping, I like to drop into Bewley’s Grafton Street Café (bewleys.com/bewleys-grafton-street-cafe) for a “cuppa” and a nice scone.

When I travel, my favorite thing to purchase is a scarf. There are so many beautiful ones and you can purchase them in department stores, museum shops or from street vendors. They are light, make great gifts and easy to fit into your suitcase. Every time I wrap one around me or tie it around my neck, I think Istanbul, Florence or Taormina and it brings back such fabulous memories.

Bobbie Abood, senior travel consultant, All-Travel.com: On Kauai, I shop at the Dawn M Traina Gallery in Historic Old Hanapepe Town (3840 Hanapepe Road, Eleele, Hawaii 96705; 808-335-3993). Most of the time, because I am running out of wall space to hang artwork, I buy small, original scratchboard pieces by Michelle Dick. She is an award-winning artist in the medium of scratchboard. Michelle’s pieces are intricate and beautiful, and tell a story about Hawaii’s culture and people.

Also on Kauai, I go to Imperial Jewelers for gold Hawaiian Heirloom bracelets and jewelry. This is a small shop owned by a husband and wife. We have purchased custom Heirloom bracelets and rings here. The quality of their jewelry is superb and prices are, we believe, the best on the island. The Hawaiian Heirloom bracelet dates back to England during the Victorian Era when Queen Kapiolani and Princess Liliuokalani attended Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887. They were each presented with a gold bracelet with their names etched in Old English lettering and filled in with black enamel. Upon their return to Hawaii, they had similar bracelets made for other royalty members, thus creating the legacy that endures to this day. Imperial Jewelers, 4-831 Kuhio Hwy, #150, Kapaa, Kaua’i, Hawaii 96746; 808-822-0094.

In Chinatown, Los Angeles: Fong’s is a family-owned business that has been in the same location since 1952. They offer an eclectic mix of gifts for all tastes and budget—from unique and stunning jewelry, to Asian items, antiques, a small selection of doll house miniatures (one of the few brick and mortar shops still around), and lots of other interesting goodies. The author, Lisa See, is related to the Fong family. Her books are sold at the shop and can be autographed, if you like. Leo Politi’s book, Mr. Fong’s Toy Shop is based on Fong’s and is about an elderly Chinese gentleman who makes toys that teach children about Chinese culture. Fong’s, 943 Chung King Road, Los Angeles, California 90012; 213-626-5904.

Amanda Klimak, co-owner / vice president, Largay Travel: I would have to say that my favorite shopping destinations are those where you can find local crafts and authentic wears that you just can’t find elsewhere. One of my best shopping experiences was in the Islamic Quarter in Xian, China, where narrow streets and paths are lined with a maze of stalls filled with shopkeepers selling Chinese masks, hand-painted kites and exotic foods. Another favorite is the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, where the shops seem to pour out onto the walkways with colorful baskets of spices and tapestries, rugs and clothes. Another favorite, strangely, is the Johannesburg Airport, where you can purchase wooden carvings, drums, and African Art from around South Africa. I often tell clients traveling on safari to shop for souvenirs in Johannesburg on the way home, where they can visit the Out of Africa shop in the airport. The prices are good and they can avoid carrying all their souvenirs on the small bush planes, where the luggage is limited.  

 

Cassie McMillion, luxury travel advisor, Betty Maclean Travel: Some of my favorite shopping destinations are a little eclectic and unique. I am not one for the likes of high-end fashion boutiques or something that you can get anywhere … I like the unexpected and exciting find. 

A few of my favorites: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, has some of the best silver and stone jewelry finds. Cute boutiques line the small town selling handmade soaps, jewelry and clothing; who would have thought you could find this in the desert? There are very little cars, but beware of the sheep.

Cape Town, South Africa, has some amazing emerging artists. The art scene is really just blossoming, which makes for some great art finds. 

Take a stroll down Magazine Street in New Orleans if you are renovating your home or your closet. Magazine Street offers everything from antiques stores that have been around for decades and places like Perch, which combines the traditional with a modern twist. 

New Orleans-based jewelry designer Mignon Faget makes sure the pieces reflect the surrounding areas. 

Clothing stores like Hemline (shophemline.com) are great for the practical pieces, but don’t miss out on the ever quirky stores like Lili Vintage and Jezebel’s. Also, you are in New Orleans so there is no shortage of great food on Magazine Street. Stop for cocktails and appetizers at places like La Petite Grocery, Lilette’s and Upperline. It could be a great girl’s day.  

Anastasia Mann, chairman/CEO, Corniche Group: Wonderful destinations for shopping include Bali in Indonesia for beautiful artwork (paintings in particular from Ubud) and even locally made furniture (shipping is easy) as well as fabrics. Gorgeous hand puppets, which sell for as little as $2 each, make lovely household decorations.

Beijing has in store some stunning shopping options like the Friendship Store selling cashmere sweaters, handicrafts and jade jewelry. Beware of buying art objects made of ivory. Despite their beauty and affordability, not only is it illegal to bring these items into the U.S., but these purchases also contribute to the mass slaughter of elephants throughout Africa.

Mykonos, Greece, has a wonderful art shop selling paintings and sculptures that are truly stunning. It is right across the charming little restaurant called Maria’s, a great find in the high streets away from the touristy beach areas.

I love shopping for ceramics in Sicily, Italy. You can find many of the more recognizable ceramics along the Amalfi Coast in popular and beautiful spots such as Positano and the island of Capri, of course. Many of these are made in Salerno and you can save quite a bit if you choose to drive an hour or two further down the coast and visit the dusty warehouses. In Sicily, however, you will find some unique and exceptional pottery and dishware at truly wonderful prices. Once again, shipping is trustworthy and not expensive when you consider what you are getting. I bought the most beautiful set of dishes for €12, with every imaginable bowl, platter and side dish, plus huge pots, and hanging and decorative platters. This massive shipment arrived at my door with every single piece intact. To this day, this collection remains one of my best and favorite purchases abroad.

Turkey
In Turkey, shopping for hand-loomed rugs is an exciting experience.

Sofia, Bulgaria, is a stunning city with amazing architecture and lots of historical sites and monasteries. It also sells wonderful hand-crafted wooden bottles holding miniature vials of rose oils. Many of the world’s most famous perfumes are born from these pure rose oils extracted from the massive rose fields in the Bulgarian hillsides.

In Nevis, West Indies, home to the lovely Four Seasons Resort, just sit on the beach for 10 minutes and soon Crazy Dick will wander your way with some stunning necklaces and other handmade jewelry crafted from the volcanic rock from Nevis Peak and other local semi-precious stones. Prices range from $5-20 here, while in the shops you will pay 10 times as much, at the least.

In East Africa, buying from the Maasai is always interesting, especially if they are wearing beaded jewelry. There are tourist arts and crafts shops as well but some of the most interesting pieces I purchased are from the tiny stalls at the itty bitty airport/airstrip in Arusha, Tanzania. In Northern Kenya, I bought an incredible beaded “chandelier-like” candle holder from the small gift shop at my little lodge. It’s truly one of a kind.

For the most stunningly beautiful silver articles—sculptured African animal artistry as well as jewelry and table décor—look up Patrick Mavros from Zimbabwe. He has his studio outside Harare and is now also in Mauritius, but to make life easier, you can see and purchase (and order) his amazing art from his London showroom on Fulham Road.  

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