Summer Vacation--California

California has so many options for a fantastic summer vacation, it is too hard to pick. Have some time for an adult only getaway? Head to beautiful Napa and Sonoma for some wine tasting, bike riding, spa, and some of the best meals of your life. Split your vacation between the homey chic Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Sonoma and the luxurious Meadowood Napa Valley in Saint Helena.

 

For families with a week+, nothing beats the coast drive from San Francisco to San Diego. The total drive takes about 8 hours direct, so taking your time you will never be driving more than a couple of hours a day. Start your trip at the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel atop Nob Hill. The kids can help plan the stops along the way at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Disneyland, Hearst Castle, State Parks, and beaches galore. The coast is lined with dreamy hotels, so feel pampered each night at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, Shutters on the Beach, and Montage Laguna Beach.

 

My exclusive VIP amenities include daily breakfast, resort/spa credits, and an upgrade (based on availability). California dreaming! Contact me today to start planning!

Summer Vacation--Cape Cod

Come summer the New England shoreline is even more amazing than usual. About 50-miles outside of Boston is the summer haven of Cape Cod, known for its sand dunes, gray-shingled cottages, and fantastic seafood (clambakes, anyone). This really is an ideal family getaway. My hotels picks include Wequassett Resort and Golf Club and Chatham Bars Inn. Both have amazing kid's clubs, family activities, and babysitting. Combine with a weekend in Boston at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston and love every second of being right across from Boston Common. My exclusive VIP amenities at all three hotels include daily breakfast, resort/spa credits, and upgrade (based on availability).

Summer Vacation--Montreal

I have been busy putting together some pretty fantastic summer vacations for clients traveling with their kids as well as those able to get away for a few nights for some adult time. 

So each day this week I will be highlighting a different destination for those looking for a summer getaway. Contact me to start planning!

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The exchange rate with the Canadian dollar pretty much rocks right now, making a summer vacation in Canada 30% less expensive than traveling in the United States. 

No Paris trip in your future? A visit to Montreal will have you oh la la-ing over the gorgeous architecture, cobblestone streets, sidewalk cafes, and buzzy restaurants. 

My pick to stay with the family is the fashionable, yet kid-friendly, Ritz-Carlton, Montréal. Without the kids, nothing tops the boutique gem, Hôtel Le St-James. At both hotels my clients receive exclusive VIP amenities including daily breakfast, spa/food and beverage credits, and an upgrade (based on availability).

Santa Fe

Santa Fe has it all. Amazing food, hiking, spas, skiing, art galleries, golf, history, and some pretty fantastic spicy margaritas. Less than an hour from the Albuquerque International Airport, Santa Fe is a perfect fit for a long weekend.

Luxe Traveler Club- Santa Fe.jpg

Stay

The most luxurious hotel is definitely the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado. Set in the mountains just outside Santa Fe, this 65-room resort really feels like a private retreat.  The casita-style guestrooms are super luxe, and the views are jaw-dropping. The hotel provides a shuttle for the short 15-minute ride into town.

If you want to stay within the Historic District, the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi has a great location, with Santa Fe’s fantastic restaurants, shops, sites, and art galleries, right outside your front door. The hotel also has a cozy little bar with a pretty fantastic hatch chile margarita. Spicy!

A more budget friendly option within the Historic District is the Inn and Spa at Loretto. It is not as upscale as the Rosewood or Four Seasons, but it would allow you to save a little coin and is still in a great location. This hotel has a true Santa Fe-feel, and is blessed with a nice outdoor pool to enjoy during the summer. In the winter, the big fireplace in the lobby lounge is the perfect place to cozy up.

Eat and Drink

I usually try to stay away from tourist traps, but I find myself coming back year after year to the Bell Tower Bar at the La Fonda Hotel, which is a true piece of Santa Fe history, tracing back to 1607. Sunset views from this rooftop bar during the summer can’t be missed, and is the most relaxing spot to sit back with a drink.

The line is completely worth it at Café Pasqual’s. I never go to Santa Fe without having their Huevos Barbacoa Con Chile D'Arbol Salsa at least once during my trip, and with a no reservation policy for breakfast and brunch, the line can get pretty long. Trust me. It is worth it.

I recently discovered Radish & Rye and I am completely swooning over their bourbon bar and farm-inspired food with a southwestern flair. Located in the Railyard area, there are some great contemporary art galleries nearby to peruse before your reservation.

If you want a good cocktail, head to the Secreto Lounge inside the Hotel St. Francis. This is where the cocktail shakers be shaking in Santa Fe.

Art Galleries

Everywhere you turn in Santa Fe there is an art gallery. The Canyon Road area alone  has over 100 galleries and boutiques within one half mile. The Santa Fe Railyard houses some of the newer contemporary galleries, while the Historic District has over 30 galleries, including my two favorites,  Patina Gallery and David Rothermel Contemporary

Contact me to start planning your Santa Fe vacation! My exclusive hotel benefits include upgrade (based on availability), complimentary daily breakfast, and a $100 food and beverage credit. 

Checking In: One&Only Palmilla

Basics

One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos bills itself as an exclusive oasis, and that is a pretty spot on description. This is definitely not your college Spring Break Mexico; this hotel is pretty much as luxe as it can get. What stands out to me most about this hotel is the attention to detail. Whether it is the thousands of candles lit nightly around the hotel or the foot and neck pillows at the pool or your personal room butler, nothing is overlooked. 

Sleep

I have to say, there is not much better than falling asleep on a daybed on your gorgeous oceanfront balcony. Let me correct myself, the only thing better is waking up to a champagne breakfast served on that balcony. The rooms at One&Only are completely luxurious. Though the style is a more simple hacienda style, the attention to detail is impressive and the rooms just feel very sexy. 

Play

The amenities are just what you would expect from a hotel this spectacular. Gorgeous pools, to-die-for spa, and a fitness center you actually want to use on vacation. For the pools, there is a separate adult pool as well as a family pool, with the cutest kid loungers. The beach is one of the only swimmable beaches in Los Cabos and the beach chairs are heavenly. 

Eat

Boring hotel food this is not. The restaurants are some heavy hitters, with offerings from Michelin-starred Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Chef Larbi Dahrouch, and Chef Yoshiaki Akaike. The design of the restaurants are pretty stunning as well. 

While I was at One&Only Palmilla on a romantic escape, I also think it would be a wonderful hotel for families. The exceptional level of service would be such a blessing when traveling with young children, and the family pool is fantastic. That said, if you are there for romance, you will definitely not feel like you are staying at a "family resort." It is the best of both worlds!

Contact me today to plan your One&Only Palmilla escape. My exclusive benefits include:

  • Daily breakfast for 2
  • 30-minute spa experience
  • Set of aromatherapy candles
  • Upgrade (based on availability)
  • Early check-in/late check-out (based on availability)

Photo Credit: One&Only Palmilla

Checking In: Four Seasons Nevis

Basics

I am so jealous of all my New York friends that have endless non-stop flights to great Caribbean destinations. Here in Washington DC, our options are more limited. This means if we want to go somewhere a little more off the beaten path, we are connecting. Not my favorite thing to do with kids, but sometimes you just need to bite the bullet when your reward is a vacation in Nevis. And it is just not a connecting flight. Once you land in St. Kitts, you then take an hour ferry ride to get to Nevis. The ferry however is operated by the Four Seasons, so the minute you step on board the spoiling begins and you feel like your vacation has started. As soon as I was handed a rum punch the long day of travel seemed worth it. Pulling up to your resort on a boat just feels so lavish and really sets the tone for what is to come. 


Sleep

With 196-rooms, the hotel was the perfect size for us for a vacation with a toddler. Small enough to still feel intimate, but had the amenities of a larger hotel. We had a standard room, but next time I would definitely look into one the villa rentals. As with most Four Seasons, the decor was on the traditional side, but it was updated and comfortable and fit the vibe of the hotel. 

Play

This hotel is all about play. We were there for 5 nights and I still did not do all the activities. I can vouch for the gym; it was new with great equipment. My husband took a tennis lesson and really loved it. I tried Stand Up Paddle Boarding and they were very patient setting me up and showing me the ropes. It is Four Seasons, so obviously the pools are great. 

By far though the best activity was the golf cart ride through the golf course to look for monkeys. Every day the hotel leads a golf cart tour throughout the golf course, stopping often for pictures of the to-die-for views, searching out monkeys. This was by far the highlight of the trip for our toddler.

We did not use the complimentary Kids Club, but I peeked it and it seemed great. We did however use the babysitting, and she was reliable and punctual and made me feel very at ease.

Eat

I give two thumbs up to the dining options at the hotel. The breakfast buffet is truly 5-star, and an unbelievable cost savings as it is included in my amenities for my clients. Mango, the seaside restaurants, is chic and romantic, yet still felt fine with kids. There is a library bar for drinks and poolside dining options. Kids under 5 eat free, and there is a kids buffet set up daily which was a lifesaver when dealing with a hungry toddler. The hotel is also a quick walk down the beach from a number of beach shacks that we went to for both lunch and dinner. Think grilled lobster and  strong rum punch. 

There is no doubt the hotel is hard to get to, but for a stress-free family vacation, it is worth it. The hotel is just made for families, and they made our toddler feel like such a VIP. I loved that we were not stuck at the hotel and could easily walk down the beach for lunch and drinks. While we had a babysitter, my husband and I went out one night to one of the beach shacks with a band and there may have been a lot of rum punches and dancing. Just saying. 

My amenities include:

  • Full breakfast daily for 2
  • $100 resort credit
  • Upgrade (based on availability)

Contact me to start planning this fab family vacation!

Checking In: Kasbah Tamadot

Basics

When I travel, I like to try to have different experiences in one trip- beach and city, small hotel and large hotel, traditional hotel and design hotel. You get the idea. On almost all of my vacations, I change hotels halfway for a new experience. After three glorious days in Marrakech, Morocco, we headed an hour south to the luxury Atlas Mountain retreat, Kasbah Tamadot. And a retreat it is.  You feel totally removed from the chaos of Marrakech; this is where you go to relax. Though there were a couple of families at the hotel, this is my pick for a romantic getaway. 

Sleep

With just 27-rooms and not much near the hotel, you feel as though you are in your own private mountain retreat.  For a total splurge, book one of the nine Berber tents, with a private deck and space for private outdoor dining. Tres chic. 

Play

What I loved most about this hotel are the offerings beyond the pool, tennis, and spa. They really incorporate spending time in the neighboring villages as part of your stay. We took an hour hike to a local Berber village and ended up having tea with our guide and his family in their home. They hotel offers longer treks, as well as mule rides and volunteering. 

Eat

Being so isolated, you are a bit limited with the dining options. There is a fireside bar for pre-dinner drinks, and a more formal dining room. I have to say my favorite part of this hotel was just the people you meet. At such a small, intimate hotel, you will quickly become friends with the other guests. After chatting with other guests at pre-dinner drinks, we often dined with new friends. 

Kasbah Tamadot is a great addition to any Marrakech vacation. It is over the top romantic, and I can assure you an experience you will not forgot. 

My exclusive amenities include:

  • Upgrade upon arrival (subject to availability)
  • Daily breakfast for 2
  • Hammam for 2
  • Early check-in/late check-out (subject on availability)

Contact me today to start planning your Marrakech dream vacation!

Photo Credit: Kasbah Tamadot

 

 

Surviving Air Travel with Infants and Toddlers

With the holidays approaching, a good number of us are about to board a flight with our young children. And this makes people pretty nervous.

I travel with my infant and toddler. A lot. Not that it is always perfect, but over the years I have used some handy tips that make it a bit more enjoyable, or at least survivable. 

1) Prep Prep Prep

It takes an extra 10 minutes when packing, but good preparation will be the biggest lifesaver. The large ziploc bags are your best friend. I use one bag for each type of item- one bag for snacks, one bag for diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes, one bag for small toys. The last thing you want during an epic meltdown is to be tearing your bag apart looking for a Matchbox car or a piece of gum. 

2) It is All About the Ears

The poor little ears during take-off and landing. Help ease the pain, and it will make your whole flight more enjoyable. For babies, nurse or bottle at take-off and landing, for toddlers, lollipops and pouches work great. 

3) Really Talk Up the Drink Cart

The drink cart is by far my toddler's favorite part of flying. To him it is a magical idea where someone delivers apple juice to you. He starts talking about it days before the flight, and his excitement and anticipation really make the first 30 minutes of the flight fly by. 

4) Keep Them Busy

As soon as your toddler is able to sit and watch an iPad (do not forget the headphones!) your travel days will be significantly easier. With the 18-month and younger set, you need to be more creative. Best bet is to hit up Target dollar bin or a dollar store. Things like scotch tape, playing cards, and anything with wheels can entertain my infant for a good enough amount of time. If all else fails, out comes the iPhone to take selfies, which seems to be hysterical.

5) Just Keep Feeding Them

The amount of snacks I bring on a flight is a little gross, but new treats seem to be the activity of choice. I try to keep away from the desserts, as a toddler sugar high is no good on a crowded plane, but I try to bring different crackers, chips, things from Whole Food bulk bins, etc. On a trip cross-country, I try to space out the treats so we are unveiling something new every hour or so. 

Be strong. Deep breath. You can do it. And if all else fails, order that Bloody Mary. 

 

Unique Honeymoon Ideas for Washington DC Brides and Grooms

Check out my guest blog post on the fantastic DC-area wedding blog, United With Love.

Here I discuss five easy (but amazing!) honeymoon choices that are within a six hour non-stop flight from Washington DC/Baltimore. Whether you are short on time or just do not want to travel far, these are some great options close to home that will still feel completely luxe. 

Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, Los Cabos

Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, Los Cabos



Checking In: Four Seasons Baltimore

Basics

If you are on the East Coast, Baltimore is such an underrated destination for an easy fantastic weekend trip. I just love the neighborhoods in Baltimore (Fells Point! Federal Hill! Canton!) but it is the overall relaxing feel of the Inner Harbor that keeps me coming back. I can easily waste a day away sitting at an outside table watching the boats and drinking wine and eating great seafood. Throw in good museums and restaurants, and Baltimore is a great pick for a one or two-night getaway.

My favorite hotel in Baltimore has always been the Four Seasons. Located in Harbor East, the hotel is an easy walk to the museums of the Inner Harbor, shops, restaurants, and the fantastic neighborhood of Fells Point. Though the look of the hotel caters more to a business clientele, the service and luxe amenities keep me coming back. 

Sleep

The hotel has 256 rooms and suites, and those who are lucky enough to have a water view sure will enjoy it. If you are traveling with young children, the suites are worth the splurge, as the bathrooms are gigantic, easily fitting a crib. 

Play

For a city hotel, the Four Seasons Baltimore  offers amenities that make it feel more like a resort. The outdoor pool is gorgeous and has a nice little pool bar. The main attraction though is the to-die-for spa. It is so unbelievably luxurious and you can spend the entire day relaxing in the steam room, sauna, soaking tub, and tea lounge. 

Eat

The Four Seasons Baltimore has a really great restaurant and bar. Not just a restaurant that is fine for being in a hotel, but it is actually a restaurant that is pretty popular in Baltimore. Wit & Wisdom, a Tavern by Michael Mina, has an American menu with a focus on Eastern Seaboard classics (think a lot of delicious crab). The patio along the water is great, and the bar has always been crowded with a good buzz. It is so nice to be able to just pop downstairs when staying at the hotel for a great dinner and cocktails. 

The Four Seasons Baltimore is great choice for a family trip (walking distance to great kids museums), a weekend away (the spa! cocktails!) or for any reason that brings you to Baltimore. Contact me so I can help you arrange a great Baltimore weekend!

Photo Credits: Four Seasons Baltimore

Checking In: Hotel Esencia

Basics

Let me start by saying I have gone here twice. Now this is a big deal, because even if I really love a hotel, it takes a lot for me to go again instead of trying somewhere new. That said, I would love to go back a third, fourth, fifth time. In fact, most people I met at the hotel were repeat visitors. That in itself says a lot.

Now on to the hotel. This gorgeous 50-acre estate, located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, used to be the private hideaway for an Italian Duchess.  The hotel defines barefoot luxury; it is very laid back but has this amazing chicness and exclusivity. 

Sleep

With only 29 suites and villas, Hotel Esencia is intimate and private. The suites are scattered throughout the "jungle" area  and in the main house, which are the only rooms with ocean views. The decor in the suites is minimalist, but this is what adds to the coolness of  the hotel. I love the extra touches in the rooms, like pre-loaded iPods and stocked complimentary minibars. While the hotel does not offer connecting rooms, they do have 2-bedroom villas, and for a major splurge, a 4-bedroom and an 8-bedroom villa. 

Play

If you are looking for a hotel with a full roster of activities, this is not the hotel for you. Part of the charm of Esencia is that there is not much to do but relax. They have a to-die-for spa and a small gym, but pretty much the only activity is to sit by the pool (they offer an adult's pool and a children's pool) or  lay on the beach under your private palapa. They offer a complimentary yoga class in the morning in a stunning yoga pavilion. There is no kid's club, but they do offer babysitting and the hotel is very kid-friendly. 

Eat

Esencia offers two restaurants - a pool restaurant and a garden restaurant. The garden restaurant is only open on certain nights of the week, so primarily all meals will be at the pool restaurant. The restaurant is lovely, but for guests staying for longer than a couple nights, I would suggest leaving the hotel for dinner in order to have some variety. One of my favorite complimentary touches at Esencia is the morning wake-up of coffee, juice, and fresh baked pastries. This is left in front of your room each morning and it such a delicious treat to wake up to.  There is no nightlife here, so this is a place to come to decompress and recharge. 

Hotel Esencia is a top pick for couples looking to reconnect, friends wanting to relax, or families with young children.  Email me today  to book this chic gem!

My exclusive amenities include:

  • Upgrade on arrival (based on availability)
  • Daily breakfast for 2
  • $100 resort credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out (based on availability)

Photo Credits: Hotel Esencia

Checking In: Round Hill Hotel and Villas, Jamaica

The Basics

When I travel, I am ready to get to the beach as quick as possible. Located a short 25-minute drive from the Montego Bay airport, Round Hill Hotel and Villas is a great pick for an easy breezy family vacation. It has the nice scale and service of a boutique hotel and the amenities for children are fantastic. The hotel has this very cool throwback vibe (John F. Kennedy edited and rehearsed his inauguration speech by the pool) but still feels luxurious and five-star. Every staff member we encountered was warm and gracious and always with a smile. 

 

Sleep

With 36 oceanfront guest rooms designed by Ralph Lauren and 27 hillside villas, ranging in size from two to six-bedrooms, Round Hill is ideal for families and large groups. We had the five-bedroom Villa 18 and it was breathtaking. The private pool with gorgeous landscaping and views made us never want to leave. It was such a treat to have a housekeeping staff to keep the villa immaculate and cook a crowd-pleasing breakfast every morning. 

 

Play

A private pool at your villa is more than enough to keep me happy, but the hotel does have several other activities, including tennis, kayaks, windsurfing, boats, and a spa and fitness center. The one drawback is that the beach is rather small and not as pristine as other luxurious beach resorts, but there is a great little beach bar to relax and have a drink. For families, the hotel offers a complimentary kids club as well as private nanny service. Both services are top notch. 

Eat

With a James Beard award winning Chef, the cuisine at Round Hill is definitely impressive. There is the more casual Seaside Terrace for lunch, while the elegant Grill is open for dinner. Twice a week dinner is served as a buffet, either on the beach or the terrace, with live entertainment. The Cocktail Bar is fantastic for a pre-dinner cocktail and features nightly live music. We loved the complimentary afternoon tea served in the lounge. 


Round Hill Hotel and Villas is a top pick for a family vacation that still feels luxurious. Email me to start planning! My exclusive VIP amenities include:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast for two
  • $100 spa services credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Photo Credits: Round Hill Hotel and Villas

Checking In: Montage Palmetto Bluff

The Basics

It takes a special hotel that is just as perfect for a family vacation as for a romantic getaway.  Currently offering 50 delightful luxury cottages and 30 two, three, and four-bedroom Village homes, this Southern style resort set within a 20,000-acre nature preserve is located along the May River in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, about a 45 minute drive from the Savannah Airport and a two hour drive from the Charleston Airport.

Currently undergoing a $100 million expansion and renovation, in 2016 the hotel will debut 150 Main Inn rooms and suites to accompany the cottages and village homes in addition to a new 13,000 square foot spa. 

Sleep

We stayed in a lagoon view cottage, which was spacious and perfect since we were traveling with children and it provided a lot of extra space, including a very large furnished screened in porch which was a nice space to have a glass of wine after the kids were in bed. 

Play

As soon as we arrived we were already sad that we would be leaving in two nights; we could have easily stayed two or three extra days. The activities are endless, and the wonderful staff makes everything seamless. In two days, we managed to go swimming, climb tree houses, go fishing, canoe, ride bikes, play golf, make smores, and overall just relax. You are given a bicycle when you arrive (and they had a huge assortment, providing us both a bike with training wheels as well as a bike with a baby seat).  We spent all of our time biking around the property to different activities and just through the miles of nature trails. They do offer a seasonal kids club, but it was not open during our stay. 

Eat

There are a number of on-site restaurants, from the more casual to fine dining. Lunch at Buffalo's located in the Village Center was particularly great, with gorgeous views of the River.  When we felt ready to try something beyond the hotel's restaurant options, we used a complimentary house Mercedes convertible to drive to town, which is about 25 minutes, and there are a handful of additional options. 

Sounds incredible right? Email me to plan a family vacation or a romantic getaway to the Montage Palmetto Bluff. My exclusive amenities include:

  • Upgrade upon arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast
  • $100 spa services credit
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Photo Credits: Montage Palmetto Bluff