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Business Travel: Pullman Style

13 Aug

As we enjoy our way through summer vacation, plans for fall business travel start to fill the calendar. I learned early on never to leave hotel booking to someone else. Flights, fine. But never the hotel. Especially during NY Fashion Week! You know who you are.

As a writer, I spend a lot of time working in the room when I travel. Spotty wifi, lack of outlets, charging stations & designated work space, scratchy linens, no Q-tips or bathtub — Just some of the things that guarantee I won’t be returning.

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Pullman San Francisco Bay

On the flip side, I recently spent a few nights at the Pullman San Francisco Bay. At first site, it seems like your average hotel for the weekday traveler. And it is. But there’s something that sets them apart: an all-new wellbeing program.

I got to celebrate the North American kickoff of this elaborate Pullman program with brand wellness coach & fitness guru Sarah Hoey. From poolside yoga to WAFF training to exclusive healthy menus—the program is designed to support travelers’ healthy lifestyles and help others who are interested discover a healthier way to travel.

Taking a break from your laptop to stretch out or lift some weights makes a world of difference. Physically, it’ll help prevent back and neck pain. Psychologically, it’s regenerative.

The program is built on 4 pillars: Sleep, Food, Sport, Spa. Pullman hotel guests can request a special Fit Bag be put in their room–packed with free weights, a yoga mat, resistance bands, and 10-minute workout suggestions. You can even request a DREEM experience, which consists of a headband that reads your sleep duration, rhythms, heart rate, and more. As a notoriously terrible sleeper I wasn’t surprised to learn I changed positions 27 times one night.  

If you visit this specific Pullman property, I highly recommend visiting the Bay Club Spa. Ask the concierge about it. And leave time to stay as long as you can! Just the massages and outdoor pool area make this spa like a mini vacation in its own right.

TOWN Sparkling Rose SangriaIt should also be said that I had the best sangria of my life at Town restaurant. I believe it’s known for the steak—and the food was wonderful—but I’d go back simply for another sip of Sparkling Rose Sangria.

Coming back to the Pullman San Francisco Bay after a huge dinner is really nice. I took a relaxing walk around the bay, watched the ducks swim, and the sun go down. Then I retreated to my room for some resistance band-style stretching. Because I could.

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PULLMAN SAN FRANCISCO BAY | 223 Twin Dolphin Dr. | Redwood City, CA 94065 | 650.598.9000

xo

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O-jai, you’re back!

2 Jul

IMG_9369If you’ve followed my travels for a while, you know I love a good weekend trip to Ojai. There’s always less traffic than driving south–from LA. It’s a prettier drive, and you can stop for some outlet or antique shopping along the way.

I’ve been visiting Ojai for over 20 years now. The Ojai Valley Inn has always been my go-to. A quick escape away from home. I’ve loved it since my first rose petal treatment… which I believe they’ve stopped offering. I will always savor my stays there. But it’s changed over the years. The pools and shops for better; the customer service for worse.

I should clarify actually – the onsite service and staff still remain as lovely as ever. It’s the Reservations team and pre-arrival customer experience that has felt cold and unaccommodating the past few years. But, as I’m admittedly picky about hotels and not a huge B&B lover, the resort has always been my first choice in Ojai.

I hadn’t been back to the area since before the 2017 fires, and actually didn’t even know what was still standing. So when I got an invite from the town’s PR team to come visit for a summer solstice shopping event, I was all about it.

Turns out there are plenty of other lodging accommodations in Ojai – camp sites, lodges, B&Bs, and intimate hotels.

I stayed at the Lavender Inn—an historic B&B that my sister told me was charming. And it was! Late afternoon wine and cheese offering. Complimentary wifi. Morning breakfast buffet. Multiple outdoor and indoor spaces to sit and chill. Or work in my case. Lots of little touches to make you feel at home.

I’ll always prefer a luxe hotel stay, but it’s easy to be charmed by the pride of a well-maintained landmark B&B. Built in 1874. It was originally Ojai’s first schoolhouse! Like the Inn keeper at Lavender Inn, the local shop owners we came across all upheld an attitude of gratitude. It’s a town that’s endured disaster and has come out the other side.

I even spotted groups of chairs set up randomly along Ojai Avenue. When I asked what they were for, I was told that the older locals secure their spots weeks in advance for the annual 4th of July parade… and it’s well-known not to mess with these chairs. Amazing! Such small-town spirit is completely foreign to a city girl. I laugh thinking what would happen if people set chairs out prior to a Laker parade, or the like. If LA ever gets another Championship parade, I’m going to set up chairs the night before and see what happens.

If you visit Ojai (and you should!), I recommend stopping in at these charming shops:

#shopojai  #ojailove  #ojai

xo

 

 

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