June is traditionally our travel issue, and this year we had planned to do a cover feature on incredible beach resorts a direct flight away. So, um, yeah. Stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, back in March, I was chatting with our staff photographer, Elizabeth Lavin, about how we could rotate on an axis in an entirely different direction — one that was still travel related but not quarantine prohibited. She told me that I should talk with Dallas designer Paul Duesing, who has turned a career designing five-star luxury resorts into a niche business creating personal retreats for a celebrity clientele.
It’ll be perfect, Elizabeth said, because he’s worked on resorts from Nicaragua to Zambia. That’s how he first got Maria Shriver as a client, after she had stayed at two of his resorts. Maria wanted to have that same feeling of escape at home. It could be an aspirational travel story and a practical guide to turning your own home into a sanctuary. Plus, Elizabeth said, she had already photographed a number of his properties, including his Bluffview home.
Perfect, I said. We can just do a quick little Q&A over the phone. He’s so charming and has the best stories, Elizabeth said. Be sure to ask him about the time he got the Queen Mum drunk on his frozen margaritas.
That little Q&A turned into the June cover feature, which you can read here.
When I ended my initial interview with Paul, we promised each other that we would get together for said margaritas whenever the lockdown was lifted. So on a recent afternoon, Elizabeth and I stopped by his home, which is featured on the cover and is currently for sale. Woefully out of practice for social engagements, I arrived underdressed for cocktail hour on Paul’s patio. (I realized when I got home that I had worn a stained t-shirt, at which point I cursed Elizabeth who had shown up in a stylish asymmetrical white dress with at least 8 pieces of jewelry on her arm.) The consummate host, Paul graciously welcomed us in and immediately offered to make us one of the frozen thingies he had made for the queen. As we toured the yard and I sat by the pool, my glass was magically never less than half full.
I remember telling Elizabeth that we needed to buy the compound that includes Paul’s house, the larger house that he just finished renovating next door, the guest house/office space, mini chapel, and saltwater pool. I told her I’d be fine just living in the guest house; she and husband and her mother could take up the rest. I also remember Paul pointing to a glamorous photo of his parents on their honeymoon and saying, “You know, I’m related to the original Tarzan. My mother’s cousin was Johnny Weissmuller.”
The stories and the drinks never ended. But before the night melted away into a warm blur, I managed to write down Paul’s recipe for the Queen Mum’s Frozen Thingies. Here it is:
The Queen Mum’s Frozen Thingies
Directions: Pour a can of frozen limeade into a blender. Add 1/3 can’s worth each of Hornitos Plata tequila blanco, Cointreau, triple sec, and Damiana. Fill with ice, and blend until slushy. Serve in black-tipped margarita glasses you designed yourself with a silver spoon for garnish. Salud!