Checking In: Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa

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Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa

This was my 10th visit to Las Vegas and I did something different. I stayed off the strip at Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa… and guess what? It felt like Paradise! Now don’t get me wrong, I love Las Vegas and the strip. If I didn’t, I would not have gone back 9 additional times. Green Valley Ranch is bringing something different to Vegas visitors – the property is providing that luxury resort component while still being in the Las Vegas area. Located just 8 miles from McCarran International Airport, Green Valley Ranch Resort is going to blow you away with their amenities, activities and gaming space while also giving privacy to you while staying at the hotel.

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The property is Mediterranean inspired and the architecture exudes those qualities. From the moment you pull into the circle drive, you are greeted with gorgeous landscaping, warm smiles and perfect customer service. Walking into the lobby you’ll find chic colors of black and white with arched columns throughout. The presentation of the lobby and staff upon arrival sets the mood for the rest of your stay – and guess what? It is going to be fabulous!

The Rooms:

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Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa

During my stay I checked into a Deluxe King Room that offered a generous amount of space at 495 sq. feet. The room itself was adorned in modern contemporary decor throughout offering a plush king size bed, 42 inch TV, desk area, sitting area, vanity, minibar, spacious closet, robes, and a separate bathroom with a soaking tub and shower.

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Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa

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Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa

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Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa

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Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa

Amenities:

  • Concierge service
  • Shuttle service to and from airport & Strip
  • 24-hour in-room dining
  • Private bar
  • Iron and ironing boards
  • Down comforters
  • Separate bathtub and showers
  • High-speed internet access/web TV
  • In-room safe
  • Multi-line speaker telephone with data port
  • Access to more than 7,300 digital daily newspapers and magazines powered by PressReader
  • Plush terry robes
  • Shoe shine service
  • Fitness facility entrance
  • iPod dock

Dining:

Green Valley has a plethora of dining to offer its guests on property. With 8 sit down restaurants including a steak house, Italian, a buffet, and more. In addition, there are some quick stop fast food options and a Starbucks on the gaming floor.

During my stay I ordered room service breakfast one morning – and I have to admit, the food was incredible. I ordered a yogurt parfait and it was not overly sweet and everything worked well together on flavors.

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Room Service 

I also dined at Borracha the Mexican Cantina. I want to point out that the service here was above and beyond! I went off menu and asked for a passion fruit margarita and they delivered. The food was scrumptious as well.

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Borracha

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Borracha

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Borracha

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Borracha

I did not get a chance to dine at Bottiglia but the restaurant is stunning. It looks like they took a page out of a dream sequence and brought it to life.

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Bottiglia

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Bottiglia

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Bottiglia

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Bottiglia

Activities:

The hotel has a lot to offer its guests from pools, spa, gaming, bars, concerts, and movies. You could stay on site during your entire trip and never get bored – the property is that big and has that much to offer its guests.

The “Backyard” at Green Valley Ranch is an 8 acre area for guests to enjoy with cabanas, an adult only pool (The Pond) and a sand bottom swimming pool – giving you that true beach feel right in the desert.

Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa

Green Valley Ranch Resort

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The Pond

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Green Valley Ranch Resort

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Green Valley Ranch Resort

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Green Valley Ranch Resort

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The Pond

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The Pond 

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The Pond

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Green Valley Ranch Resort – Sunset 

Tip: If you are not staying at the hotel, you can purchase a pool pass Monday-Friday $20 adults/$10 children.

The casino is one of the prettiest I have ever been to and they offer over 2,000 games around the clock. I highly recommend hitting the sports bar for $2 margaritas – I was skeptical because $2 drinks anywhere usually means “watered down” but alas, I was wrong. Two of those drinks and you are good to go.

Overall:

LOVED my stay at Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa. I had been wanting to stay here for about two years to try something off the strip and I absolutely recommend it to anyone visiting the Las Vegas area. The property is very spacious and really has it all – you could spend your entire trip here and never leave. If that inclusive resort feeling is important to you, this is your next Vegas stop.

Additional Information:

  • Address: 2300 Paseo Verde Pkwy, Henderson, NV 89052
  • Phone: (702) 617-7777
  • Distance from McCarran International airport: 8 miles ~13 minutes
  • Casino hours: open 24 hours a day
  • For Cabana and Ca-bed rentals: (702) 617-7744
  • Dining: options

 

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Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa

Disclaimer: I was hosted by Green Valley Ranch and Resort but as always, opinions are entirely my own. 

Checking In: The Chase Park Plaza St. Louis

I remember arriving to The Chase Park Plaza Hotel and its location is in a neighborhood in St. Louis that is easily walk-able. This urban oasis is bringing a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to luxury hotels.

 

After you stay in a lot of hotels, they start to blend together – so I try and find something about each property that is memorable & unique in helping me to remember my stay there. I didn’t even have to go far in finding something – it hit me right in my senses when I walked into the hotel. The smell of fresh buttery popcorn! That’s right, the hotel has a movie theater connected to it and you can walk right in from the lobby area. When it comes to unique – this takes the cake as I have never been to a hotel that had a movie theater.

The movie theater is just one of the great things about the hotel that stood out to me. That staff took the time to get to know me and remembered my name, the amazing craft cocktails I went for every night just because the bartender, Joe, was incredible to watch, that fact that the bars hotel The Preston actually carried a 23 and 15 year Pappy Van Winkle – both of which made my soul happy, the beautiful outdoor pool, the guest laundry facilities (and they even provided laundry soap), and I could keep going on for days. In summary – my stay in The Gateway City felt complete staying at The Chase Park Plaza Hotel.

The Rooms:

With over 380 rooms in the hotel and multiple categories to choose from, you are sure to find a room that fits your needs. During my stay I checked into a 1 Bedroom Suite and loved how spacious (840 square feet), bright and comfortable the room was. As someone who works on the road, I like having desk space and a separate work area from the bedroom. This suite really encompassed the ideal room offering the separate living space, 2 TV’s, ample desk space, a full living ares with several seating options, large closet, bathroom with a shower and tub combo, and plenty of light leaking in.

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1 Bedroom Suite

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1 Bedroom Suite

Room amenities:

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Balconies (select)
  • Coffee makers
  • Flat-screen TVs
  • Complimentary newspapers
  • Tasteful décor
  • Pillow-top beds
  • Fine cotton sheets
  • Premium toiletries
  • Thick terry robes
  • Elegant bathrooms
  • Living rooms
  • Room service
  • Pool and city views
  • In-room safes

 

Dining:

The hotel offers 3 dining venues and in-room dining. During my stay I had breakfast twice and drinks nightly at The Preston and had a drink and the BEST short rib mac & cheese at the Chase Club. If you only go to the hotel to eat – this mac & cheese should not be missed. It may be one of the best things I have ever eaten (and sadly I ordered it late at night and did not have my camera so I don’t even have a photo to share).

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Breakfast at the Preston

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The Preston

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The Preston

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Chase Club

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Chase Club

Extras:

The hotel does have a gorgeous pool on site that should not be missed as well as a spa! In addition they have the easy access to the movie theater inside the lobby as well – that delicious smell of popcorn will draw you right in!

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Chase Park Plaza Pool

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Chase Park Plaza Pool

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Movie Theater – retrieved from Sonesta

 

Attractions:

A lot of the main attractions in St. Louis are relatively close to the hotel.

Read More: 9 Experiences to have in St. Louis 

  • St. Louis Arch 6.4 miles
  • Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis 0.6 miles
  • Saint Louis Zoo 2.1 miles
  • Missouri Botanical Gardens 2.4 miles
  • Busch Stadium 5.4 miles
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Cardinals Game

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Botanical Garden – Climatron

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Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Additional Information:

  • Address: 212 N. Kingshighway Blvd. St. LouisMO 63108
  • Phone: 1.314.633.3000
  • Distance from St. Louis Lambert International Airport: 11.2 miles
  • Parking: valet and self both available
  • Uber friendly city

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Chase Park Plaza Hotel

Disclaimer: I was hosted by Explore St. Louis and Chase Park Plaza, but as always, opinions are entirely my own.

Checking In: Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa

Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa

I have a confession to make .. I think I have only ever stayed in 1-2 Marriott properties. I honestly do not know why I haven’t stayed before – but I am 100% sold on staying in their hotels in the future. They exceeded any expectation I had and I already cannot wait to return to explore more of this area. The property overall is fantastic. I found it to be light and airy, extremely clean, and overall offered a lot of open spaces – my only wish is that I had gotten the chance to stay longer.

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Beach Sunset

From the moment I arrived, I was welcomed into a gorgeous lobby that had beautiful decor throughout and sun shining right through. I could see children laughing and running in the distance and I knew I was checking in somewhere special. The check-in process went so smoothly and the staff was incredibly friendly.

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Lobby

The hotel offers 2 pools, a luxurious spa, 2 restaurants, 1 bar, in-room dining, gym, beach front access, and a trip you are never going to forget!

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Outdoor Area

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Cabana Area

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Pool

The Room:

I checked into a 1 bedroom condo with an ocean view during my visit. I was extremely pleased with the large amount of space, washer and dryer, separate living space from the bedroom, the beachy upscale decor, and the lush marble bathroom.

Something that caught my attention right away was the well curated minibar options. Since the room has a full size fridge, there were plenty of beverage options and the liquor options came in pint sizes versus the single serving sizes. In addition – I loved that the hotel gave popcorn in the minibar snacks since the room has a microwave – perfect for a movie night.

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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Luxury Bath Amenities

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

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1 Bedroom Ocean View Condo

My favorite part of the room is the balcony from which I could see both a sunset and a sunrise! I had the best view in the entire hotel in my opinion. There is something truly magical about enjoying peaceful time on your balcony with the breeze from the water and seeing the sun in all her glory.

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Balcony Sunset

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Balcony Sunrise

 

Room Features

  • 800sqft/72sqm
  • Air-conditioned
  • This room is non-smoking
  • Connecting rooms are not available
  • Outdoor spaces: balcony (1)
  • Living/sitting area
  • Dining area
  • Living room is separated
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • Living area is separated from bed by privacy wall
  • Walk-in closet
  • Windows, soundproof
  • Total outdoor space: 74sqft/7sqm
  • King Bed
  • Marble bathroom
  • Outlet with dual voltage adaptors
  • Desk, writing / work, electrical outlet
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Washer and dryer
  • TV’s – 2

Dining:

Marriott Singer Island-3800 Ocean Restaurant-2

During my stay I had the pleasure of dining at 3800 Ocean. I had a moment to chat with the chef about the food and you could tell he was very passionate about his work – which ultimately shined through in his culinary creations.

I had a charcuterie board, fried green tomatoes with pork belly confit and a watermelon and goat cheese salad. I cannot possibly choose a favorite because each dish was amazing in its own way. I loved the rich flavors of the green tomatoes but also the softness of the goat cheese paired with the watermelon and arugula salad (which to be honest – I did not know if that would taste good but I love trying new things and it was fabulous!). I was completely full from all the amazing food that I just could not eat anything else – so I opted not to get an entree or dessert.

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Delicious Bread

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Charcuterie Board

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Fried Green Tomatoes With Pork Belly Confit

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Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad

 

Additional Information:

  • Address: 3800 North Ocean Drive · Singer Island Riviera Beach, Florida 33404
  • Phone: 1-561-340-1795
  • Distance from West Palm Beach Airport: ~20-25 minutes
  • Parking: Valet is available – Uber is also readily available throughout the area

Overall:

I loved my stay here and completely fell in love with the area.

 

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Marriott Palm Beach

Disclaimer:

I was hosted by the Palm Beaches Tourism Board, but as always, opinions are entirely my own. 

7 Experiences To Have In The Palm Beaches, Florida

I just returned from a quick 4 day trip to the Palm Beaches in Florida and it was packed with incredible things to do. I honestly had not done much research prior to visiting but I had heard a lot of great things so I knew I was in for something special. The area is so beautiful that I feel like I photographed every inch of every place I went to. I came home with over 2,000 photos and I cannot get over how much I love the area.

I put together my favorites from my trip to share with you that I think really stood out and made the trip extra special.

Visit Flagler Museum 

The Flager Museum is one of my favorite things to do in the Palm Beaches. I am obsessed with architecture and interior design and Flagler brings it all and more. The museum actually used to be a home, Whitehall. Henry Flagler bought it for his third wife as a wedding gift and it only took 18 months to build .. and it is comprised of 75 rooms. Can you even imagine having something with such a gorgeous grandeur built that fast? Every room is different and designed in the Beaux-Arts style. You can expect to find large amounts of marble, rich colors, murals on the ceilings, and Henry Flagler’s train car on property.

I don’t want to give away anymore but there is a great story of how it came to be and why Flagler had his own train car.

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

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Flagler Museum

Breakfast or brunch at Circle at The Breakers Resort 

The only thing I wish that had gone different at The Breakers Resort was me staying there for more than a meal. Not only is the food incredible and a must visit – but the hotel is absolutely beautiful! Just walking around the property was so special. I loved seeing all the light leaking in through the glass windows and the decor is top notch. I will definitely be returning for a stay.

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As for the food – I have made it no secret that I judge restaurants on how well they poach eggs and Circle does it quite perfectly laid over the hash I ordered. I also ordered their homemade granola and yogurt and it was so good AND the presentation is beautiful.

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Breakfast at Breakers Resort

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Breakfast at Breakers Resort

Catch a sunset AND a sunrise 

If you know me .. you know this is a priority when I travel. I like to see the sun and all its glory. I was really fortunate to see an incredible sunset and sunrise at the Marriott on Singer Island when I stayed there.

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Sunrise at the Marriott Singer Island

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Sunset at the Marriott Singer Island

Try local beer

I did a brewery tour and tasting at Twisted Trunk Brewing and learned so much about brewing from the owner, Fran. On our tour of the brewery he let me see how the beer is made and let me taste some of the different barley’s they use to make beers. I tried a beer that they make that I loved and think is perfect for summer called: Watermelon Saison! It may sound strange but I promise it was delicious. The watermelon did not overpower and it was subtle.

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Twisted Trunk Brewing

Tour Palm Beach 

Easily the most beautiful city I have seen. Every corner is brimming with gorgeous architecture, beach coastlines, high-end and boutique shops, and friendly faces. I took a tour with Leslie from Island Living Tour and she is so incredibly knowledgeable about the area – she lives there and she is very excited about sharing it.

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

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Palm Beach

Spa day at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa 

Eau boy was this an experience! Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa is such a marvelous property! I was only on site for an afternoon for lunch and a massage but I could certainly see myself staying for a weekend .. or two! Before I went to the spa I explored the property a little bit and had lunch on site at Breeze Ocean Kitchen. The food is so fresh and so delicious. I cannot stop talking about the ceviche they have made with passion fruit. It is the best I have ever had – so make sure and get this when you visit!

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Breeze Ocean Kitchen

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Breeze Ocean Kitchen

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Breeze Ocean Kitchen

As for the Eau Spa – what an incredible experience. This is only the second time I have left my phone behind (which I always should, I know) to get the real spa experience. Prior to my treatment I enjoyed the whirlpool and sauna and just relaxed. No talking, no thinking about the things I needed to do – just me time. Eau Palm makes this easy with the ambiance of the spa. I should also mention they have champagne and cupcakes – they definitely know what they are doing!

My massage was perfect! I did a 60 minute Swedish massage and was able to select my oils, sounds in the room AND color – if that isn’t personalized, I don’t know what is! After your treatment you can retreat to the lounge, the whirlpool and steam rooms or there is an outdoor relaxing area that is truly a peaceful area.

Eau Palm Beach Spa Rainforest

Eau Spa – image provided by Eau Spa

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Eau Spa – image provided by Eau Spa

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Eau Spa – image provided by Eau Spa

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Eau Spa – image provided by Eau Spa

 

Eat ALL the food 

I cannot rave enough about how AMAZING the food is here. Everything is so fresh, so original and overall everything I ate was sensational! Typically when I travel I seek out food that is different from where I live or things that are special to the area. As it turns out – a lot of the area is farm to table and uses the freshest ingredients.

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Salt7

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Crab Stack Deck 84

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Deck 84

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Gary Rack’s Farmhouse Kitchen

Read More: Foodies Guide to the Palm Beaches

 

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palm beaches activities

*Disclaimer: I was hosted by the Palm Beaches Tourism Board, but as always – opinions are entirely my own. 

Checking In: Seagate Hotel & Spa Delray Beach, Florida

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The Seagate Hotel & Spa is located in Delray Beach, Florida among the Palm Beaches. Nestled beautifully within the Delray neighborhood, it has easy walking throughout the city to many bars, restaurants and shops.

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Delray

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Lobby and Reception

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Sitting Area

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Sitting Area

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The hotel has a private country club with 18 holes for golf and 9 tennis courts, a beach club, private beach access with umbrellas and chairs, pool, and 2 restaurants offsite that you can take their shuttle to for use during your stay.

Downtown Delray Beach The Seagate Beach Club

Delray Beach

Hamlet Country Club

Golf

Seagate

Seagate Beach Club

I love that the property is a boutique property and isn’t overly big – it felt more catered to the guests. There was never any lines to check-in or out or a wait for anything. The pool was also never crowded.

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Amenities:

  • High speed internet
  • Concierge
  • Newspaper delivery
  • Twice daily housekeeping
  • Business center
  • Luxury car service – available from 8-11 within a 3 mile radius of the hotel. First come basis.
  • 24 hour valet
  • Seagate spa
  • Steam rooms
  • Fitness center with classes
  • Outdoor pools with Jacuzzi
  • Seagate Beach Club’
  • 24 hour room service
  • Pool bar service 11-5 daily

The Room:

During my stay I checked into a Deluxe King Room. Offering 500 generous square feet of space right in the heart of Delray, oozing with luxury. Some of the features I loved most about the room were the balcony overlooking the pool, the deep soaking tub with bubble jets, gorgeous marble bathroom, super soft Egyptian cotton sheets, and the nightly turn down service that came with a box of delicious chocolates and a purple orchid.

Bonus: I slept with my doors open for that nice Florida breeze as it isn’t too hot yet and I could hear the water lightly.

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Deluxe King Room

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Deluxe King Room

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Minibar Snacks

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Luxury Bath Amenities

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Sitting Area

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Nightly Turn Down

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Chocolates

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Balcony Views

Room amenities:

  • SMART Room Technology
  • 42″ HDTVs
  • DVD players
  • iHome docking stations
  • In-room movies
  • Three telephones
  • Mini-bars
  • Microwaves
  • Safes
  • LEED certified
  • Luxury Egyptian cotton linens
  • Luxury bath amenities by Gilchrist & Soames
  • Keurig coffeemakers
  • Umbrellas
  • Glass-enclosed walk-in showers
  • Lighted makeup mirrors
  • Blow dryers
  • Robes
  • Slippers
  • Scales

Dining:

Due to my busy schedule I did not get to dine in any of the fabulous establishments within the hotel but I did order room service my last morning and it did not disappoint. I was delivered the fluffiest of pancakes with pancakes.

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Overall:

Loved my short stay with Seagate Hotel and Spa! Boutique luxury is my favorite kind of luxury and the hotel met and exceeded my expectations in every way.

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Additional Information:

  • Address: 1000 E Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33483
  • Phone: (561) 665-4800
  • Distance from West Palm Beach Airport: 19.2 miles ~ 30 minutes drive
  • Parking: 24 hour valet

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seagate hotel and spa

Disclaimer: I was hosted by the Palm Beaches Tourism Board and the Seagate Hotel, but as always, opinions are entirely my own. 

Fairmont Washington, DC: Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea

 

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Its that time of year again when spring is upon the city and the Cherry Blossoms are almost in peak bloom. For the next few weeks the city will be dazzling in all things cherry blossom, including an afternoon tea at the Fairmont in Washington DC!

Swaying away from traditional English tea, this modern take on tea is bringing the sweet and savory in a two tiered wood and slate bento box. While the tea sandwiches are similar to a traditional tea you won’t find typical items like Devonshire cream, but instead a more bountiful dessert selection.

I loved the concept, the food was amazing and very filling (so come hungry) and the tea is being served in the beautifully (and recently) renovated Loggia Lounge.

Menu:

Savory:

  • Curried chicken, mango, toasted almonds, cherry marmalade, brioche
  • Smoked salmon, horseradish creme fraiche, salmon pearls, dark rye
  • Prosciutto & cucumber, boursin cheese, mini croissant
  • Heirloom tomato, burrata cheese, va butter, sourdough

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Sweet:

  • Rooftop honey tea scone, cherry jam
  • Rose panna cotta, rooftop honey
  • Sour cherry almond pound cake
  • Chocolate cherry donut

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Tea Selection:

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Fairmont Washington, DC is offering LOT 35 Tea for options during this experience. With options of black, green, white, and even caffeine free flavors.

I did the black cherry almond tea and it was really good. Almond and cherry notes were perfect for the pairing.

You can do an add-on rose or brut with tea as well! I loved the rose!

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Rose

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Rose

Additional Information:

  • Address: 2401 M St NW, Washington, DC 20037
  • Phone: (202) 429-2400
  • Reservations: —> HERE 
  • Dates: March 20-April 15th
  • Served daily from 2:00-4:00pm
  • Price: $40/person without champagne $50 to include rose and $55 to include brut

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*Disclaimer: I was a guest of Fairmont Washington, but as always, opinions are entirely my own

15 Tips For Visiting Dubai

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Dubai skyline with the Burj Khalifa towering over

Dubai is such an exhilarating city. A land of indulgence and opulence. And somewhere in between the old and new is this fascinating culture brimming with a zest for life.

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Burj Khalifa – worlds tallest building

I did not travel to Dubai solo, but after having been, I definitely would. I spent time on my own doing some things in the city and I always felt 100% safe. I went on a two week trip with a girlfriend to the city and to Abu Dhabi and we had such an amazing time! I met so many amazing people from other surrounding countries and one man from Saudi Arabia even handed me his child to hold. Dubai is such a friendly city and people were always willing to assist when I needed anything.

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Mind bending skyscrapers

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Sunset over the Burj Al Arab

I have compiled my best tips for visiting Dubai and I hope this helps when planning your trip!

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Here are my top tips for visiting Dubai:

  1. Currency: the official currency in Dubai is the dirham (or Dhs or DH). I highly recommend keeping cash on you when exploring the city.
    1. Currently the exchange rate from the US Dollar is about x 4. So 4 dirhams equal about $1 dollar.
    2. I got cash in my local airport before I left but there was also cash exchange in the airport in Dubai.
  2. Cash or credit cards?: the good news is that Dubai is light years ahead of Western countries in so many ways, one being the chip and pin on the credit/debit card. I remember being in Dubai and they had it before it was even a thing in the USA. Even in the souks in the old city there were people with credit card machines.
    1. ATM’s are everywhere and not hard to find.

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      ATM

  3. Language: Dubai is a nice melting pot of people from everywhere, but the official language is Arabic. Everyone I met during my trip spoke English and I never had an issue communicating.
  4. Best time to visit: Dubai is situated around desert and hot most of the year with the coolest climates being between November-March. I went in the month of February and it was shorts and shirt weather but not sweltering hot quite yet. I went in the pool, beach and water park.
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    Camel on the beach

    1. Dubai can get extremely hot in the summer months reaching temperatures above 113 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity levels are also high. If you don’t do well in the scorching heat with humidity, the summer may not be the ideal time for you to visit.
  5. Getting there, visas & passports: flights are widely available globally to get to Dubai. The main airport is Dubai International Airport (DXB)
    1. As a US citizen I did need a passport with at least 6 months before expiry to enter. I did not need a visa.
      1. Always check online or with your consulate as each country is different and can have different entry requirements.
  6. Getting around: Dubai is not a small city by any stretch of the imagination and traffic can get bad. The good news is that there is transportation for every budget. I used a taxi to get around and it wasn’t expensive. Some of the other days I did a hop on hop off tour because it picked up where I was staying on the Palm Dubai and goes just about everywhere in the city.
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    Dhow boat

    1. Rent a car
    2. UBER – I even hear they offer helicopter service
    3. There are over 1,500+ buses in the city
    4. Rail
    5. Taxi
    6. Dhow boat
    7. Cycling
  7. Where to stay: this is an interesting topic. Dubai has over 50+ 5 star luxury properties in the city, including a 7 star hotel. Narrowing down where to stay is going to be challenging. I would recommend the Sofitel Dubai The Palm and at least one night at the Burj Al Arab – everyone should experience a 7 star luxury hotel at least once.
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    Burj Al Arab

    1. Dubai does offer other categories of properties for its visitors but it is a land of opulence and their travel style does match it.
  8. Cost of food: I found the prices to be pretty standard for Western prices. Hotel meals are more expensive in general and the fancier the hotel the more you can expect to spend.
    1. You can find cheap eats throughout the city though. Walking through the souks we found amazing local food for just a couple dirhams.
    2. We had food delivered to our hotel (and various companies offer this service like UBER Eats) and it was very cheap. I think we each paid about $10 USD for every meal we ordered.
  9. Clothing: Dubai is not like Western countries and the scantily clad women you see everywhere. They practice a more conservative culture and you should keep yourself covered. Shoulders, knees, cleavage, & excess skin should be covered out of respect for the culture.
    1. Caveat – I did notice at the hotel pools and beaches that more people were in revealing swimsuits and no one seemed to care. The decision is up to you.
  10. Religion: Islam is the largest religion in Dubai, however there are several other regions and places of worship within the city. The city is open minded about religious beliefs.
  11. Top attractions: there are so many things to do in Dubai, but these are my favorite:
    1. Burj Khalifa – go all the way to the top of the tallest building of the world and star over 1,800+ feet down  dubai-2292836_1920
    2. Visit the Dubai Mall – over 1,200 shops!
    3. Dubai Miracle Garden – open seasonally

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      Dubai Miracle Garden

    4. Palm Jumeirah – island looks like a palm tree from the air
    5. Atlantis

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      Atlantis

    6. Ski Dubai – indoor year round skiing
    7. Dubai Aquarium
    8. Catch a sunset

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      Dubai sunset

    9. Burj Al Arab – 7 star hotel on its own island and shaped like a sailboat
    10. Gold and spice souks

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      Souk Shopping

    11. Desert safari

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      Dessert Safari

    12. Dubai museum

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      Dubai museum

  12. Phone and WiFi coverage: everywhere I went offered free WiFi to its customers. I can’t think of a time I wasn’t connected during my stay. As for phone coverage, I did not turn my phone on while I was away but I would check with your phone service provider or you can get a SIM card.
  13. Safety: Overall, I felt extremely safe. But with anything, you should always practice safe measures:
    1. Be cautious of the neighborhoods you are in and time of day
    2. Let the local embassy know you are in town
    3. Let someone know where you are and when you expect to be back
    4. Set up a safety measure with someone back home to let them know all your plans and check in frequently
  14. Cuisine: Middle Eastern food is incredible. Come with an open mind as they utilize spices and vegetables in a delicious way. Foods not to miss: baba ganoush, falafel, taboon bread, and knafeh!

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    Delicious eats

  15. Take a day trip to Abu Dhabi!! It is only about an hour and a half away and the Big Bus Tour company has add-on tickets that you can get and they will take you there. I spent several days exploring here but I highly recommend visiting for at least a day to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. It is the most beautiful place I have ever been.
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    Sheikh Zayed Mosque

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    Sheikh Zayed Mosque

     

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Review: Norwegian Breakaway’s Luxury Haven

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Norwegian Breakaway

As a long time cruiser of Norwegian Cruise Line (some 10 years), I have seen the company go through changes and upgrades on their ships overtime. For those looking for a more elevated luxury experience, the creation of the Haven has been their most advanced upgrade.

This was my second time cruising on the Norwegian Breakaway but the experience was entirely different. I had the opportunity to stay in the Haven, which is a luxury enclave, or “ship within a ship” as NCL would call it. If you are not familiar with the Haven, the concept is that you have a private area perched atop the ship that was designed for those who book Haven rooms.

Benefits of booking a Haven room:

  • Priority embarkation/disembarkation – no waiting in lines
  • 24 hour butler – a phone is given to you in your room that you can take anywhere on the ship to contact them
  • Dedicated concierge inside the Haven Courtyard
  • White tablecloth in-suite dining
  • Evening turn down service
  • Priority restaurant and entertainment reservations
  • Exclusive access to The Haven Courtyard area with private pool, sundeck, hot tub and fitness area
  • Sparkling wine, bottled water and fruit on embarkation day (For 2-Bedroom villa, Courtyard Penthouse, Spa Suite, and Penthouse only)
  • Mini-bar and deluxe coffee/espresso/cappuccino machine
  • Special Haven Menus
  • Grab and go breakfast items including parfaits, diced fruit in a martini glass, fresh pastries and gourmet meats
  • Treats delivered to your suite each evening
  • Invitations to an exclusive breakfast and lunch
  • Invitations to exclusive cocktail parties
  • Cocktail party with ship’s officers
  • Bliss Collection by Norwegian pillow-top mattress
  • Fine linens, feather duvet and pillow menu
  • Plush bathrobes, slippers and oversized bath towels
  • Luxury bathroom products

The extended benefits of booking a Haven room truly change the experience of your cruise. Having been on 10 cruises, this one was entirely different but I still received the same service that I have come to love from Norwegian.

From the moment I arrived at the pier in New York, there was staff for the Haven waiting to take me to a private check-in where afterwards I could enjoy food and be the first to board. In the Haven lounge I met with the concierge staff that would be available during the cruise for Haven guests only.

Once on the ship, my room was ready and waiting for me. There was a bottle champagne on ice, chocolate covered strawberries and fresh flowers awaiting my arrival. Technically there were a few bottles of champagne because of my Latitudes status as well.

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The Room:

For this 14 day cruise I checked into a Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with a Balcony. The room was located within the enclave of the Haven where key card access is required to get in. Within the courtyard is a private pool, deck, sunning deck, bar, and restaurant – which are exclusive to Haven guests only.

Room Features:

  • Room: 328 sq. feet
  • Balcony: 58 sq. feet
  • Bliss Collection by Norwegian pillow-top mattress
  • Fine linens, feather duvet and pillow menu
  • Plush bathrobes, slippers and oversized bath towels
  • Luxury bathroom products – Bvlgari
  • Bathtub/shower combo
  • 2 closets
  • HD TV
  • Dining set for 2
  • Lavazza Coffee machine
  • Mini Bar and glasses for most drinking occasions
  • Love seat sofa that folds out into a bed
  • Extended room service menu – at no cost
  • Movies on the TV were free
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Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with Balcony

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Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with Balcony

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Haven Courtyard Penthouse Suite with Balcony

What I loved about this room was the extra space – and believe me – every foot matters when you are on a cruise, the much larger luxury bathroom that had a bathtub and vessel sink with 2 faucets, the ability to make my own espresso or cappuccino, in-room dining, the room service selections were abundant and included, and the balcony chairs and table were a step above the other rooms – and by that I mean cushioned seats and they were a bit bigger.

The balcony views I found to be much better as well since I was on a higher floor of the ship, giving me a wider view.

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Curacao

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Caribbean Sea

I did in-room dining several times because I had a table, it was easy and I liked to be lazy on sea days. There is an extended Haven menu for room service and there is no charge.

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Room service breakfast

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Egg white omelet

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Lunch – Greek salad

My room was on the 15th floor and had a door down the hall with direct access to the spa and gym, which was nice since I had a thermal spa suite pass (you can either book a spa room with access or buy a thermal spa suite access pass for the duration of your cruise). So many sea days and nights I spent winding down in the hot tubs, sauna or just relaxing on the heated chairs overlooking the ocean.

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Thermal Spa Suite

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Thermal Spa Suite

*Highly recommend getting the thermal spa access – it was such a great place to relax.

The Restaurant: 

The restaurant that is exclusive to Haven guests IS the best restaurant on the ship. I know this because I have dined at most of them on previous sailings and the food is just a cut above the rest. In fact, I ate 90% of my meals on board in the Haven restaurant .. on a 14 day cruise – that good! To be honest, I think the restaurant alone is worth booking the Haven for and that’s without adding all the extra upgrades!

I want to be fair though – the food on the ship is good everywhere, I just found it to be an elevated dining encounter in the Haven.

*Note: the menu for each of the 3 daily meals never changed. There was a new dinner special each night, but otherwise did not change.

Breakfast:

Breakfast IS my favorite meal of the day .. why? Because I love bacon and croissants. My absolute favorite breakfast dish in the Haven restaurant was the huevos rancheros and I did not try it until my last day. Take note, try it the first day!

*The Haven restaurant has a small buffet of meats, cheeses, cereals, yogurts, fruits, danishes, breads, etc for you to take as you please and has menu items in addition.

Lunch:

After discussing with fellow cruise guests, I would strongly argue that lunch was the best meal for the restaurant. I must have eaten the goat cheese galette 7 times and the prosciutto and mozzarella salad was just divine.

Dinner:

With the exception of a couple nights, I ate here for dinner every night. And every night I always ordered the butternut squash soup with duck confit and the slow roasted pork belly.

Butler:

During the duration of the cruise I had 2 butlers, one of them worked from 8am-8pm and then the other covered the overnight shift. Both butlers were incredible. Essentially they were a direct line to take care of all your needs on board, should you have any.

I remember telling the butler when I got on board that I loved souffle and towel animals .. and he delivered, literally.

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One of the amazing towel animal creations

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Coconut souffle

Butler Features:

  • Private phone to use throughout the ship that they would answer & assist
  • Direct line for room service – and would deliver white tablecloth dining in room
  • Delivered daily treats to the room
  • Took care of reservation, spa, or any other requests
  • Delivered anything you request
  • Left daily fruit
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Daily treats delivered

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Daily treats delivered

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Concierge: 

Easily one of the most beneficial perks of the Haven. Having a dedicated team that is inside the Haven (and rarely a line to speak with them) – that escorts you priority off the ship, takes you to priority seating at shows and assists you in every possible way you could imagine, was essentially like having a team of people working to make sure your trip was the best it could be.

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Haven Courtyard Area:

The courtyard was one of the driving reasons I wanted to be in a Haven room on a 14 day cruise. This ship is newer and holds a lot of people and this specific itinerary had about 8 sea days in total. Having this extra space to go to where it seemed no one ever was, gave me somewhere to go and relax outside of my room that was private.

The courtyard area had a pool, 2 hot tubs, private sun deck, inside deck with chairs, beverage station, bar, restaurant, lounge, private spa rooms exclusive to Haven guests, and the concierge desk. In addition, staff were always present with beverages and ready to assist in anything.

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Haven Bar

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Haven Pool

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Haven Lounge

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Beverage Station

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Haven Deck

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Haven Pool

Overall:

Loved the upgraded luxury experience of the Haven and all the bells and whistles it came with. There was no detail missed in this experience – every staff member in the Haven knew me and all the other Haven guests by name and face and always greated us with lovely smiles. I have cruised in every level of room categories now with Norwegian and this was by far my favorite – however, every cruise I have been on with NCL has been just as great and in different ways. The one major thing I would note about this cruise in the Haven compared to all other cruises outside of it was that I spent most of my time on board in the Haven, and that is because it was simply a marvelous experience.

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**Disclosure: I did partner with Norwegian Cruise Line but as always, opinions are entirely my own

Checking In: Sandals Montego Bay, Jamaica

Surely you have seen a Sandals commercial gracing your TV at some point with fun music, perfect white sand beaches, couples having the time of their life, and the promise of a luxury included vacation .. and that is exactly what I got when I stayed at Sandals in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I’ll admit, I was skeptical – the commercials I see at home show people always smiling and doing amazing things – BUT that is what its really like.

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**Tip: always get a window seat flying in and out of the island .. the views are unbelievable!

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The Resort:

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Sandals Montego Bay

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Beachfront Village

The Sandals Montego Bay location is located about a 10 minutes drive from the Sangster International Airport and set on Jamaica’s BEST private beach. From the moment we arrived in Jamaica, all our needs were taken care of. The hotel provided a private car transfer to the resort (this feature is available with butler suites, otherwise you will get a complimentary transfer via shuttle) and we were on our way to Paradise!

When we arrived we noticed that most of the hotel has an open air concept. I really loved this because the property is steps from the beach and you get the breeze from the water. Because we had a butler suite, we had a private check-in separate from the main check in. We came to a smaller building next door and were greeted with a cool towel and a welcome drink. After we checked in we met our butler where he gave us a personal phone to contact him for whatever we needed and he showed us around the property.

The main entrance to the resort is the lobby and called the “living room.” The resort wants you to feel at home when you are there – and you do. Most of the restaurants & bars are located right off of the living room in each direction overlooking the water, the rest of them are just on the other side of the main pool.  I found that the resort was not overwhelmingly big and just big enough for everyone to have privacy and spread out but close enough to get to everything in under a couple minutes – nothing was ever far and very walk-able.

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Living room

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Living room

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Lobby

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Outside the entrance

The gorgeous beach is lined with chairs, umbrellas, cabanas, and activities. In addition, you will find outdoor showers throughout for you to rinse the sand off before returning to your room. I actually love this feature because I don’t love sand and it is hard to get rid of – but having these showers makes it so much easier.

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Grounds

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Beachfront Cabana – these are for rent

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If you walk out here you can see most of the resort

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Beach volleyball

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Outdoor showers

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Lazy beach days

The best part of this resort was the VIEWS!! In every direction it was gorgeous! We had amazing weather our entire stay and really felt like we were in paradise. Each morning was a magical sunrise and each night a sunset. We could not have asked for a better 3 nights.

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Balcony sunrise views

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Dinner sunset

All-Inclusive:

When they say they are the only 5 star resort with luxury all inclusive, they truly mean it. High end spirits, gourmet food, Mondavi wine, impeccable service, land and water sports, scuba, WiFi, entertainment, and so much more! – its included.

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One of the best benefits of visiting this resort in Montego Bay was that we had the option to stay at 1 resort and play at all of them. This exchange program is available to all the resorts in Jamaica in their locations. There is a shuttle that leaves every hour and goes to the other 2 local resorts where you can explore the resorts, eat at their restaurants, use the facilities, etc. Bonus: your WiFi works at all the resorts!

We met a couple during our stay and we all went over to the Sandals Royal Caribbean on the shuttle to spend the afternoon on their private island and eat jerk chicken and pork at the Jerk Shack. During this adventure we also got to see the over water bungalows adjacent to the private island and they are STUNNING (please adopt me)!

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Sandals Royal Caribbean

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Sandals Royal Caribbean

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Sandals Royal Caribbean

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – private island

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Sandals Royal Caribbean

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Sandals Royal Caribbean

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Sandals Royal Caribbean – the Jerk Shack

There was a beach party on one of the nights we were there and they brought out all kinds of food, beverages, entertainment and fun for everyone to enjoy. I was so happy that the crowd was able to play along with the entertainment they had – seemed like everyone was constantly laughing and having a great time.

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Beach party foods

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Dancer

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Dancers at the beach party

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Fire dancer

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Crowd dancing 😉

The Rooms:

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Beachfront Village

The resort offers quite an array of rooms to suit every need. During our stay we checked into a ‘Beachfront Super Luxe One-Bedroom Butler Suite w/ Balcony Tranquility Soaking Tub.’ Trust me, it was as amazing as it reads. Offering modern Caribbean color decor, 2 HD Smart TV’s, custom wood bed, bistro dining set, sofa, tranquility soaking tub on the balcony overlooking the ocean, massive spa like bathroom with walk in shower, vessel sink, and luxury bath amenities, 24 hour room service, fully stocked bar and spirits, butler, and 24 hour room service.

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Beachfront Super Luxe One-Bedroom Butler Suite w/ Balcony Tranquility Soaking Tub

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In room bar

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Tranquility patio tub

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Luxury bath amenities

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Bathroom

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Room service breakfast

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Self service bar

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Enjoying a local beer from the patio

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Caribbean Village

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Butler villas

One of the things I really loved about our butler Jermaine, was that he was so kind. I had my sunscreen taken away at the airport and went out and found me some, drew me a gorgeous bath with flowers, got us last minute reservations at restaurants, and was just an all around fun guy to be around. He would find us on the resort and make sure everything was going good – basically he is the best and you should request him when you visit!

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Bath fit for a queen

Restaurants and Bars:

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Outdoor dining: cuciana romano, bayside & oleander

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Jerk Shack

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Cafe de Paris

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Cucina Romano

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Tokyo Joe’s

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Tokyo Joe’s

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Dinos Pizzeria

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Cafe de Paris

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Tokyo Joe’s

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Cucina Romano

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Cucina Romano

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Tokyo Joe’s

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Front row dinner sunset views at Stew Fish

Sandals is known for being the luxury included vacation, which includes food and alcohol! The Sandals Montego Bay Resort has 9 restaurants and 4 bars, not including room service and the self service bar we had in our room. In the 4 days/3 nights we were there we were able to try 7 of the 9 restaurants and the food was delicious in all of them. My favorite restaurant though was a toss between Stew Fish and Cucina Romano. Stew Fish offered delicious seafood and Cucina Romano had sensational Italian food. *You do need a reservation for both of these restaurants so plan ahead.

My favorite bar was the swim-up bar! We met a lot of amazing people hanging out there and the bartenders played the best music and were always engaging. Definitely try the specialty drinks they make. I cannot pick a favorite but the dirty banana and the hummingbird were top contenders.

**Sandals and their sister property Beaches are really good about food allergies. My husband is allergic to gluten and they prepared his food in a separate kitchen. Just let them know your allergies so you can plan ahead.

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Piano Bar

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Swim up bar

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Dirty Banana

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Pool

Weddings:

Fun fact, I was actually married at Sandals sister property Beaches in Turks and Caicos. They are the same except Beaches is family friendly whereas Sandals is a couple resort.

There are many places at this resort to get married, including a chapel! I took a tour of the chapel and the wedding planning area and I think the grounds are just beautiful and having had a wedding with the Sandals team, I can tell you that it was near perfect and effortless on our end to put together. They do everything for you – all you have to do is make selections on what you want for your special day, pick a location and show up – easy as that.

**One of the cool features that was pointed out to me was in the bridal room mirrors – there are 3 sets of lights you can press so that you can see what your make-up will look like in different scenarios.

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Wedding Salon

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Bridal room

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Chapel

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One of the outdoor wedding sites

Overall:

LOVED the resort – I cannot get over how perfect it was for me. I hope to return to Jamaica and explore their other resorts on the island. The hospitality is excellent and it shines in the Jamaican culture.

Additional Information:

  • Address: Kent Avenue, Montego Bay, Jamaica
  • Phone: +1 876-952-5510
  • Distance from Sangster International Airport: about 10-15 minutes
  • Hotel provides shuttle round trip from airport
  • WiFi: available throughout the resort and if you visit neighboring Sandals properties

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**Disclaimer: I was hosted by Sandals, but as always, opinions are entirely my own.

7 Experiences To Have In San Jose, California

I spent a week in San Jose, California exploring the best of the area with the Tourism Board. I, like many others, know San Jose as Silicon Valley and a tech city, but to be honest – I didn’t do any tech tours or visits during my entire stay!  San Jose has so much to offer its visitors beyond the tech world and that was the focus of this trip.

So here are my favorite 7 experiences to have in San Jose!

Check in at the Luxurious Valencia Hotel 

Located in the beautiful Santana Row, Hotel Valencia is set among the shops. If you ask anyone in the area where Hotel Valencia is their eyes light up and they say “Oh that is right down the street!” The locals even know this property is a shining beacon of luxury and the only hotel in Santana Row.

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Santana Row

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Santana Row

Offering just 215 rooms and suites, this boutique property has it all. Besides its fabulous location, you will find two on-site restaurants, a full service bar, and a rooftop bar that is open seasonally .. where you can catch an amazing sunset! Did I mention they offer a full continental breakfast with their room rate? And it’s a pretty amazing breakfast with a lot of options.

During my stay I checked into a Deluxe Balcony room. My favorite part of the room was the balcony view overlooking Santana Row. You can’t help but love the area – it is really beautiful, even from new heights. Offering 350 square feet of generous living space, I found the room to be perfect for my stay. The bed was unbelievably comfortable with 300-thread count designer Egyptian cotton linens, and when I touched my head to the pillow each night, I was out like a light! The bathroom was gorgeous, offering an Italian white marble.

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Hotel Valencia

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Hotel Valencia

Room inclusions:

Guest Room Amenities:

  • Custom design by Rottet Studios of Houston
  • 16-foot oak credenzas with custom stenciling
  • Elegant plantation shutters
  • Custom-designed Hotel Valencia beds with oak-plank headboards
  • 50″ flat-panel televisions with High Definition
  • Complimentary wireless Internet
  • Individual climate control
  • Honor Bar
  • Iron and full-sized ironing board
  • Complimentary weekday newspaper, on request
  • Coffeemaker
  • In-room safes
  • Clock radios with smartphone charging and audio capability
  • Handicap Accessible rooms available*

Guest Bath Amenities:

  • Lighted makeup mirror
  • Hairdryers
  • Bath amenities by famed California modern apothecary LATHER®
  • Waffle-weave bathrobes
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Sunrise Balcony Views

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Courtyard

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Outside the hotel

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Balcony views

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Santana Row

I would highly recommend dining at Oveja Negra, one of the on-site restaurants. The dining experience here was one of the best I had while in San Jose and the food was incredible. Every dish the chef created looked like a work of art. You could tell he had a real passion about his work and it shined through visually and in taste. If you only get one dish here I HIGHLY recommend the Beer Braised Mussels. I am STILL thinking about how good they were… and I was there about a month ago. Lasting impressions.

Eat your way around town!

You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t  eat some of the delicious food San Jose is serving up. I ate way too much during my stay so I could tell you guys all about how good the food is. Every place I ate at was better than the rest and never once did I eat something that wasn’t delectable!

Some of my favorite restaurants were:

Read more: Foodies Guide to San Jose!

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Recess Ice

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Huevos Rancheros – Fountain

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Cheese and Charcuterie – Fountain

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Mussels at Oveja Negra

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Fondue Aux Fromages – Left Bank

Visit the Winchester Mystery House

Before visiting I had never even heard of the Winchester Mystery House .. and then after hearing its history I was scared to even go in (I scare easily).. BUT I went anyway because I was fascinated to see what the hype was about. I don’t want to give too much away because you actually learn about the history of the house during a tour – which I recommend you do while visiting. I have never seen anything like this before – the mansion has 160 rooms over 24,000 square feet. The sheer size of this house is incredible – but what is even more fascinating is the stairway that leads to nowhere, the window in the floor, the low level stairs with switchbacks, and why this house is so intense.

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Winchester Mystery House

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Winchester Mystery House

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Winchester Mystery House

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Winchester Mystery House

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Winchester Mystery House

Find the Street Art 

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I actually did not have enough time to see all that I wanted to – BUT I found the best piece in town and that makes up for it.

Visit Wineries

Just outside the city I had the opportunity to visit a couple wineries. They were easy to get to, the wine was amazing and each winery was beautiful in their own way.

These are a must when visiting the area:

Ridge Vineyard is a bit further of a drive than Testarossa and its uphill most of the way, but I promise the wine is sensational and the views are just as great. I would highly recommend doing the private tasting with the food pairing as you get in-depth knowledge and history of the winery. The vineyard almost did not exist and I won’t give anything away but it is definitely worth it to learn about it while there. I did get the chance to taste their current wines and some of their vintage. I am a big fan of red wine (Cabernet to be more exact) and their wines just blew me away. Each wine I tasted was unbelievable .. that typically does not happen for me. There is always a wine I do not like – but Ridge knows what they are doing and that is worth noting.

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Views from Ridge Vineyard

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Ridge Vineyard

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Ridge Vineyard

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Ridge Vineyard

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Ridge Vineyard

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Ridge Vineyard

Testarossa winery has a more laid back vibe with an abundant amount of indoor space of tastings, including several private rooms. We did a tour of the grounds and learned all about the history of the property and how they make their wine.One of my favorite things about this winery is their outdoor patio area – its expansive, beautiful, there was a band playing, and a cute man drawing portraits of people. He would just spot someone and draw them and then bring them their drawing. It was really fun.

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Testarossa Winery

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Testarossa Winery

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Testarossa Winery

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Testarossa Winery

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Testarossa Winery

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Testarossa Winery

 

Get a massage 

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Now I know what you are thinking, “Nicki I can get a massage anywhere” and you are right. However, both my friend and I got a massage in Santana Row at InSpa and both had an incredible massage. This place is not the type of spa you find in a resort or luxury hotel, however it WAS one of the very best massages I have ever had .. and a 2 minute walk from the Hotel Valencia.

Catch a sunset 

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Santana Row

If you don’t already know, I am a sunset chaser by trade and lately a sunrise chaser as well. While San Jose is not by the beach – it is a great place to catch some beautiful sunsets in the urban jungle. I was lucky enough to catch 2 during my trip, one of which I was in an UBER and the driver pulled over for me to photograph ❤

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Sunset

These are my top picks for visiting San Jose – on my next visit I will make sure to cover the things I didn’t see on this trip!

 

A big thank you to the San Jose Tourism Board for hosting me during my stay. As always opinions are entirely my own. 

Checking In: Fairmont San Francisco’s $20 Million Dollar Penthouse Suite

Reading that title I know you opened this because you really want to know what makes a room worth $20 million dollars. You are probably expecting to find gold lined walls  and lavish chandeliers holding real diamonds, but not in this suite, no. What you are going to find is my favorite hotel suite I have ever been in and it holds none of those things. Well maybe a little.

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Living Room 

Taking up the entire 8th floor of the Historic Main Building at the Fairmont San Francisco, this Penthouse Suite comes in at a massive 6,000 square feet offering 3 spacious bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a library, billiards room, kitchen, and a terrace with unbelievable views of the city. As luck would have it, the fog was incredibly thick during my stay – but still, the view was magnificent.

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Penthouse Suite Views

What I love about this suite is how different it is from every other Penthouse Suite I have seen AND how unique each room within the suite is. No two rooms are the same and they all have their own unique vibe.

I want to start with my favorite room, the 2-story circular library with a celestial map on the ceiling covered in gold leaf and a sapphire sky. What makes this room special? Lets just say if you are a millionaire and you don’t own a library, you are spending your money entirely wrong. This room is reminiscent of my childhood dreams (and now 34 year old dreams) of having a library like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. The design elements are not exact but this library is stunning in its own way. Complete with a circular staircase to the second floor, first editions on the shelves and a secret passage way that is rumored to have been used by a president and his mistress. It would be easy to spend a day in here looking through old books and staring at the ceiling.

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Penthouse Library

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Penthouse Library

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Penthouse Library

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Penthouse Library

My second favorite room in this suite is the Moroccan themed billiards room. The second I walked into this room I felt like I had just been transported back to Morocco. The details of this room are marvelous and the walls are made of handcrafted Persian tile. You can see throughout the room in every arch, every color selection, each carefully hung lamp, and its full grandeur that this room is delivered straight from a Riad in Marrakech. If someone dropped you into that room without having seen the rest of the suite, you would think you were in Morocco in someones home, waiting on your mint tea and figs before a challenging game of pool.

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Penthouse Billiards Room

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Penthouse Billiards Room

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Penthouse Billiards Room

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Penthouse Billiards Room

Each of the three bedrooms were all decorated differently, but as a traveler I was drawn to one of the rooms because it had a map covering the wall. Now this was not just any map thrown up, it was special and it was designed perfectly with animals on it. It was definitely designed to be a kids room but I love this room the most because I am fascinated with geography and the world.

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Bedroom #1

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Bedroom #1

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Bedroom #2

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Bedroom #2

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Bedroom #2

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Bedroom #2

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Bedroom #3

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Bedroom #3

As you can see each room is so different and has many themes throughout. In bedroom #2 we see the Moroccan sink details and in bedroom #3 we see a bit of an Asian theme with the armoire.

The last room I saw before heading out to the beautiful patio was the dining room. As you can see there is ample space and seating for 14. This dining room is not decorated at all like the rest of the suite offering darker colors on white walls and lets in the most light from outside. The tiled patio is directly off of this room allowing easy access between the two spaces.

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Dining Room 

There are a few ways to get to the grand balcony: through the library, the living room and through the dining room. This balcony has stunning tile work covering the flooring, fountain and railing and non- obstructed views of the city. There is no class or netting blocking your view, it is completely wide open.

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Balcony

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Balcony

Beyond all the gorgeous details and grandeur each room exudes, booking a stay in this Penthouse Suite comes with so much more!

  • Personal Butler
  • Kitchen stocked with organic items from the Farmers Market
  • Selection of California wines
  • Designer stem wear and china
  • Personalized robes
  • Luxury linens & bath products
  • Fresh flowers
  • and exclusive amenities developed for each guest personally

I haven’t stayed in or been to every Penthouse Suite in the world, but I have stayed in quite a few – but this one is currently my favorite. Granted, they are all wonderful in their own ways – but this room offered so much more. The library and billiards room are hands down the most incredible rooms I have seen in a hotel before – and that is reason enough to book a stay in this room.

Fairmont San Francisco Penthouse Suite

**Disclaimer, I was hosted during my stay at the Fairmont – but as always, opinions are entirely my own