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Girl Heads North: Carmel Road trip

17 Jul
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Hyatt Regency Monterey

This one’s kind of a two-parter, as I made two stops on a recent road trip up north.

First I met a fellow group of writers up at the Hyatt Regency Monterey. I’ve never stayed in this area before. It’s inland a bit so there aren’t any immediate ocean views, but the hotel golf course provides a peaceful backdrop. And the course is beautiful. To me, most are – but the trees here give it an extra oomph of serenity. Truly the best part of this hotel is the staff. From the front desk to the wait staff, everyone goes above and beyond to ensure your satisfaction.

They made sure we took a field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. A treat for any sea life lover – and just minutes away. Honestly, I could sit and mediate on the jelly fish tanks all day long. They’re mesmerizing.

We were also introduced to a local artist – Patricia Qualls. We had lunch at her airy studio in Carmel Valley and learned about the inspiration behind her work. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend stopping by. Her pieces are exquisite, and she is about as warm and lovely as a human gets.

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Back at the Hyatt, the food is surprisingly good. I enjoyed every bite during my stay. And I took a lot of them! Especially dinner. Everything, down to the salads is prepared with taste and aesthetic in mind. Like most restaurants in the area, it’s a farm-to-table feast. Very family friendly. Even the honey is locally sourced. Originally created by a 10-yr old boy for a school project, Carmel Honey Company is now a burgeoning business.

The hotel rooms could use some updating. And some style. They’re average at best. I’ll leave it at that.

It’s a big property so there’s parking available in front of each building. Very convenient. As much as I adore valet, there’s something to be said for being able to come and go without having to call for your car or wait in line.

 

My next stop took me back toward the coast to another Hyatt property. It’s a spot I’d been once before, and will always look forward to returning.

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Hyatt Carmel Highlands view

 

As I sit here overlooking the great Pacific, silently reveling in my Rosé and Brussels sprouts appetizer, I am filled with an awestruck appreciation for this 100-year-old hotel. It’s perfection. The Hyatt Carmel Highlands is like so many beautiful women we know – aged, elegant, resilient, and always evolving… if you pay close enough attention.

Celebrating her centennial birthday this year, she is still as relevant and adored as ever. Her vaulted ceilings, stone columns, and windowed walls are truly timeless. But the deck has been updated since my last visit – and it’s been acquired by the Hyatt. There’s new sparkling glass with modern tables to take in the sunset. And I hear other dining room upgrades are in the works. Something to look forward to for my next trip.

Some of The Highlands’ rooms are mid-renovation. But I’m in a townhouse-style room and it couldn’t be more comfortable. All the kitchen necessities of home, but with a modern fireplace and out-of-this-world tub.

Perched atop these cliffs and cypress trees with the waves crashing and foaming below, it’s easy to forget about everything else. But somewhere in between all the letting go-ness, unexpected new perspectives and realizations are woven.

Life makes sense. We are where we should be. And wherever that is, we have ourselves to thank.

This week I did good.

xo

 

Ultimate Dreamer Package in Indian Wells

20 Oct

Agua Serena SpaFor years we’ve been harnessing October to bring more awareness to Breast Cancer. As a nation we use organized walks, runs and different types of promotions to focus on the awful disease. We pay homage to those who have suffered from it, and educate others in hopes of preventing it. It’s a beautiful effort and giant strides are being made. But you know all this.

What I haven’t seen a lot of (or perhaps at all?) is something the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa is doing in October. The hotel is inviting anyone to go on their Agua Serena Spa site and submit the name of a Breast Cancer survivor. The hotel spa will then email the survivor a credit of $35 to use toward the service of their choice. I love this!

Additionally one of these guests will be selected to win a full day of spa services and lunch. Prize awarded on November 5th.

Agua Serena lobbyIn related news, I had the pleasure of experiencing the Ultimate Dreamer Package at the 30,000 square-foot oasis called the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Agua Serena Spa. There is no one I wouldn’t recommend this head-to-toe indulgence for – everyone deserves such thorough pampering at least once in her life.

Writer’s note: I loved their robes. Spa robes are very important. Truly. Absent pockets or too small a fit can really damper the comfort of a spa day.

The package begins with a fragrant agave nectar oil and sea scrub exfoliation—of which you rinse off in a private outdoor rain shower. Next the technician massages Vitamin E oil onto your skin and follows it with a warm paraffin treatment. While the paraffin is working its magic, a neck and scalp massage are blissfully administered. Then you shower again.

I try hard not to fall asleep during spa treatments, but you almost have no choice in the matter here.

Stop two is when you are brought in for an 80-minute Opulence Facial. Lots of complexion inspection, lots of serums, lots of product-to-face immersion. In my hazy state, I recall talk of Vitamin C. Annnd then I passed out.

The last stop is for a Spa Bites Lunch, concluding with an Apple Blossom Manicure and Pedicure. The nail techs are wonderful, adding extra care and customization wherever possible. Treat someone this December who you want to celebrate, want to thank, owe a favor, or even just like a lot.

Hyatt Regency IWOne final note in closing about the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells. This is a lovely property – it’s family-friendly, great for lovers, golfers, tennis enthusiasts, and so on. Having said that, the hotel itself probably wouldn’t make my Top 10 list. But the staff would. It’s been a long time since I’ve visited somewhere in Southern California where the staff went above and beyond to make your experience memorable. From dining to spa to the front desk – every person we spoke to showed genuine interest in perfecting our visit, and (even more rare!) seemed thrilled to be employed there.

#RelaxPlayIndulge

 

 

Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa

44600 Indian Wells Lane | Indian Wells, CA 92210

760.776.1234

Indianwells.hyatt.com

From L.A. to Wellness in Loreto: A 4-Day Diary

27 May

Rtkf2Fy20ALEn3NzZLnFElIa-xsmGLnZDvj60BNuVmNVi1t57d0ZSM3QQJybSwiLY3qJBwdIZOuHkHIV-xx3k3-jAGDTHZxNhrcMEZ4wpu3-ZDCeSv5NRqF8E2ZMe9AWsZnSB6cIocHiQbC32Xm2-BR7KS3uKnnoOxFWZWpQFdqWsHsdIYFBDYm7ISWI6SVtcVOY6ADuF33XCS9dtKgj5lDQBgMTSitting quietly off the eastern coast of the Baja peninsula is a hidden jewel in Loreto called the Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa. Upon seconds of arrival, I went from feeling like I was in the middle of nowhere, to exactly where I was supposed to be.

Greeted with kind smiles and quenching strawberry lemonade, we would soon kick off our Wellness Week experience through a special hand washing ritual—signifying all of our stress and bad juju would be left outside the hotel doors.

SETTLING IN

Checking in was surprisingly simple since we had emailed all of our information and food preferences prior. I always recommend doing this, btw. Help the hotel help you! We were given magical bracelets to wear for the entirety of our stay. No room keys to lose (or get deactivated from being held too close to your cell phone) here. Just this little waterproof accessory that would never fail to let you in your room.

I had a One Bedroom Suite. It was 1,300 square feet of total comfort! With a king bed in the bedroom and a pullout queen sofa in the living room, it could have slept four easily. Not to mention a huge private balcony overlooking eyefuls of the Sea of Cortez, fully functioning kitchen, two bathrooms, two TVs, and (big drum roll!) a washer/dryer. The appliances put my little Los Angeles apartment to shame. Charming touches such as Welcome truffles and your name in colorful pebbles on the master bed represent the warmth of the culture—as well as the resort staff. Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 3.48.07 PM

The first night, we enjoyed surf & turf skewers under the stars amongst the fire pits and island breeze. There are three restaurants on the almost 4,500 acre property—all of which provide room service and can accommodate gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and even kosher (if notified in advance) diners.

Menus aren’t taken lightly here. Each meal is prepared like a work of art and presented with all the care of a gallery curator. Continue reading

A glimpse of my trek.

22 Oct

Sorry about the little hiatus, folks. I’ve been walking the California Coast! And let’s be real – posting regularly has never been my strong suit.

In short, my trip was incredible. I covered ground in Malibu, Ventura, Oxnard, Carpinteria, Montecito, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Pismo Beach, Montana de Oro, Morro Bay, Cayucos, Cambria, San Simeon, Ragged Point, Big Sur and Carmel. Most of it was on foot but for some stretches, I enlisted the help of Uber, buses, Amtrack and strangers.

I’m sure I’ll write about my journey in greater detail at some point, but for now – please enjoy this video created by Darrow Linder with some of my photos and clips.

xo

Valentine’s Day in Gloss Angeles

8 Feb

Regardless of how you really feel about the holiday, Valentine’s Day arrives in all its splendid pink and red glory every February 14th. However you acknowledge it, here’s a sampling of ways to express your love, or current liaison, in the City of Angels…  

Surprise your special other with a local-ish getaway just 20 miles north of Santa Barbara. Book the Romance Retreat package, enjoy a gorgeous drive up the coast together, then settle in for some camping El Capitan Canyon-style. Guaranteed to satisfy both your outdoorsy and amorous spirits, relax for two nights in one of the signature creekside cabins – complete with king size bed, roomy two-person soak tub and cozy fireplace. 

Available through March 31st, this El Capitan package also includes champagne flutes, French truffles, keepsake blanket and other romantic treats to sweeten your escape.  

To check availability, call 866-352-2729 or go to http://elcapitancanyon.com.   

Kick off the touchy-feely holiday with a Couples Massage Course at The Sports Club/LA on Sunday, February 13th at 4:00 PM.  Acclaimed expert in the art of bodywork, Nami Ishimori will teach her student couples how to explore the intimacies of massage in a private event environment. Bonus: Each couple graduates with a gift of massage oil.

To make a reservation, call Matt Lee at 310-473-1447 x109. The Sports Club/LA |1835 South Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles

Not looking for a getaway just yet, but want to up the ante with an exceptional dinner? 

You can never go wrong with a reservation at Koi, but on Monday the restaurant will be honoring St. Valentine by offering a special tasting menu with dishes like The Lovers: Surf & Turf and Cupid: Tuna Tataki. Or share a signature Koi Kiss nightcap (vodka, strawberry puree, lemon, and splash of champagne) by candlelight at the bar. 

Koi Restaurant Los Angeles | 730 N. La Cienega Blvd | 310-659-9449

Already armed with a perfect plan, but still looking for some rich chocolaty finishing touches?

No one knows dessert like Sweet Lady Jane and she never disappoints when it comes to chocolate. Put in a call now and order a few Chocolate Raspberry Tarts – delectable pastries filled with whipped ganache, fresh raspberries and chocolate cylinder curls.

Or stop by the shop and share a slice of show-stopping Old Fashioned Chocolate cake. Irresistible to even the most luke warm-dessert lover, layers of dark chocolate cake are flawlessly filled with French chocolate buttercream, then frosted with Belgian chocolate ganache and mounds of imported chocolate curls.

Sweet Lady Jane | 1631 Montana Ave, Santa Monica | 310-254-9499  

Just looking to grab a drink or two?

Stop by Bar NINETEEN12 at the Beverly Hills Hotel for some posh fireside ambience and heart-shaped jelly shot cocktails, featuring floral ingredients from violets, elderflowers, hibiscus and roses.

 For a more beachy-cas environment, cruise over to the Malibu Lumber Yard patio and cozy up with one of the various hot chocolates at ChocolateBox Café.

On a tight budget… Not-so-much looking to wine and dine, but still want to pay homage to cupid?

Sure you can stop by Fred Segal Santa Monica or Satine on West 3rd, but if you want to save 40% (for a limited time) on a Samantha House bauble, make it a point to visit her website and type in LOVE at checkout. If she adores wearing cocktail rings and you aren’t quite ready to buy the ring, check out the Asteroid Rings – sexy, edgy, and fun. Just like her!

And if you’re planning a simple dinner under the stars or just kickin’ it homestyle, spice things up with some satin sheets from Anna’s Linens. Swap out your ordinary picnic blanket for a sexy red satin sheet, or surprise him with a bed made in sultry chocolate satin. Whatever shade(s) you choose, you’re sure to stay well within the love budget.   

However humble or grandiose you decide to do Valentine’s Day, may you spread the love in style …

xo