SCOTTSDALE THREE WAYS

Scottsdale, Arizona is an ideal destination for many types of occasions. For one, it’s very easy to get to; most US hubs offer direct flights into Phoenix airport, just a 20 minute drive from Scottsdale. Secondly, it has great weather pretty much year-round. The city averages 299 sunny days a year and while, yes, it is cooler in the winter and can be hot, hot, hot in the summer, the climate is very dry and there is almost no humidity. And lastly, there is an abundance of things to do in Scottsdale – from golf to spa, hiking to jeep tours, and even museums and gardens – there is truly something for everyone!

But with dozens of hotels in the Scottsdale area, the tricky part is choosing where to stay! Having visited Scottsdale twice in the past 4 months, I have some suggestions on the best resorts for three totally separate vacations:

BACHELORETTE PARTY OR GIRLS GETAWAY: THE SAGUARO

While airbnbs are often popular for large group trips like a bachelorette, a fun boutique hotel is a great alternative for those that don’t want to worry about grocery shopping or spending all weekend coordinating Ubers for a big group. The Saguaro Hotel Scottsdale is ideally located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, with easy access to tons of restaurants, bars, shops and coffee houses. The vibe of the hotel is also perfect for a girl party – everything is neon and Instagram-worthy! I recommend rooms that open up onto the main pool and a suite for the bride – you’ll feel like you’re in a house with a large living area to hang out in and easy access to a pool, but you’ll have guac and margs at your fingertips!

FAMILY FUN: THE FAIRMONT SCOTTSDALE PRINCESS

There is something for everyone at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. This is a larger resort with 6 pools (one with its own beach!), 4 different restaurants, a golf course (plus access to hundreds more in Scottsdale!), and a killer spa with dozens of fitness classes offered weekly. The Trailblazers Family Adventure Center has daily programming for kids and pre-teens aged 5-12. For a more intimate experience, I recommend staying in the Fairmont Gold area of the resort. Gold guests have access to a private lounge that offers daily breakfast, evening appetizers and cocktails, and a private check-in and concierge desk, as well as unlimited use of the spa facilities.

WELLNESS WEEKEND: SANCTUARY CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN RESORT & SPA

If you’re looking for a more peaceful hideaway with a focus on wellbeing, look no further than Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa. This intimate property has just 109 casitas and suites, nestled across its 53 acres in bungalow-style accommodation. Guests enjoy farm-fresh healthy food and Asian-inspired treatments at the spa. The resort offers beautiful views of the famed Camelback Mountain as well as across the Scottsdale valley and the sunsets here are a nightly show. Scottsdale has optimal weather for indoor/outdoor living, so I recommend a Spa Suite for the private outdoor soaking tub or a Terrace Casita for a private outdoor rain shower.

Contact us to start booking your next getaway to Scottsdale, or check-out our new self-booking tool to reserve on your own with exclusive amenities.

HOTEL REVIEW: WHAREKAUHAU COUNTRY ESTATE

Sheep farms abound in New Zealand. In fact, sheep outnumber humans in the country at a ratio of 7 to 1. So for a truly authentic New Zealand experience, I love the idea of spending a few days on an actual working sheep farm and Wharekauhau Country Estate is the perfect place to do just that. This Relais & Chateaux property has operated as a sheep station since the 1840s and guests are offered the unique opportunity to see what this means first-hand through the lodge’s farm tour.

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GETTING THERE

Wharekauhau is located in the Wairarapa Valley on the North Island of New Zealand, about a 2 hours’ drive from the capital city of Wellington. The lodge can arrange for vehicle transfers for those who do not want to rent a car, or, you can opt to arrive by helicopter in just about 15 minutes’ time!

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THE ACCOMMODATIONS

The oceanside property is sprinkled with one-bedroom cottage suites, most of which offer interconnecting options to allow for families or larger groups to stay together. All of the suites overlook stunning vistas of Palliser Bay, and feature gas fireplaces, super King-sized four poster beds, plush couches, and of course – a jar of homemade cookies. The large walk-in wardrobe leads into a small wet bar area and then on to the bathroom where guests will find heated marble floors and large soaking tubs with views over the front lawn.

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DINING

Breakfast is served in the kitchen of the main lodge – a continental buffet of breads, pastries, fruit, fresh jam and honey, plus a menu of hot selections available for order. Pre-dinner drinks and canapés are served in the living room and offer guests the opportunity to mingle and discuss the day’s activities by the fire. Dinner is then presented in the formal dining room – a delicious 4-course menu (changing daily) with an optional wine pairing. Many of the wines are from local Martinborough vineyards or produced by the lodge owner’s vineyards around the world.

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Room rates are inclusive of daily breakfast, pre-dinner drinks and canapés and 4-course dinner. Guests can opt for lunch at an additional fee, but given all the food, you may want to skip it as we did, and just grab a pastry from the cloche in the kitchen to tide you over.

ACTIVITIES

There are so many fun and unique activities to do at Wharekauhau! We partook in the following:

  • Martinborough Wine Tour – the Martinborough region is known for fabulous Pinot Noirs. Just about an hour from Wharekauhau you’ll be in wine country with easy access to multiple different vineyards. Wharekauhau arranged a private guided tour for us that included tastings at four different wineries. Moy Hall was one of my favorites due to the design of the building. And we loved the lunch spread at Poppies – a platter of cheeses, meats, breads and spreads is always perfect for wine tasting. If you’d like to ship a case of wines home from a variety of the vineyards you visited, don’t forget to stop at the Martinborough Wine Merchants store in town before you leave and assemble your box. IMG_2671IMG_5116
  • Farm Tour – As I mentioned above, the Farm Tour is an absolute must for all guests experiencing Wharekauhau as it gives you the opportunity to really understand what goes into operating a sheep farm – from training sheep dogs to shearing the wool. The day we participated, everyone else staying at the lodge was also on the tour and it was a great way to connect with our fellow travelers.DSC02594DSC02609
  • Archery – With the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, archery has become a popular activity for New Zealand visitors. Wharekauhau offers an incredible archery experience with a seasoned guide.

These were just a few of the activities we enjoyed, but there are many more options available!

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WHY VISIT

Each place we stayed in New Zealand was completely unique and Wharekauhau did not disappoint. I loved being near the ocean, gazing past herds of sheep to the bluffs of Palliser Bay. The property is stunning and the warmth and hospitality you’ll feel at this estate is palpable. ATLAS + VALISE clients also receive special Virtuoso amenities, including a $100 resort credit and early check-in!

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HOTEL REVIEW: AZUR LODGE

Nestled among soaring mountains at the foot of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand and is a must-see for anyone visiting the country.

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Just a 5-minute drive from this bustling downtown, you’ll find the perfect hideaway for honeymooners and couples – Azur Lodge. This boutique luxury property is incredibly private – it has 9 identical villas perched hillside, with breathtaking views over the lake and surrounding mountains.

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ACCOMMODATION

Villas at Azur Lodge are spacious – from the L-shaped couch set in front of the gas fireplace, to the private patio and the indoor dining table set in a bay of floor-to-ceiling windows – there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the view. A small kitchenette provides guests with complimentary soft drinks, beer and wine, as well as local snacks, tea and coffee. The villas are arranged such that each is completely private (once you’re in your villa – you won’t see anyone else in theirs!) and have unobstructed views from the King-sized bed to the oversized soaking tub.

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AMENITIES

In addition to the 9 villas, the property has a main reception area with a lounge, dining room and library. At breakfast time, guests can opt to join others in the main dining room, where a delicious buffet spread is laid out, or have breakfast delivered to their villa at no extra charge. In addition to the traditional continental fare, guests can also order a variety of hot items – anything egg-based, pancakes, or french toast.

In the afternoons, pop up to the main lodge for a cup of tea and the pastry of the day, or stop by in the evenings for a cocktail and some canapés (or both – hey, you’re on vacation!). While dinner isn’t included at this property, a full bar is set up in the evenings and you can request pretty much any cocktail or glass of wine that you’d like. The hotel also offers a complimentary shuttle to and from town and the concierge is available to assist with dinner reservations at the top spots in Queenstown (of which there are many!). But, one of the more genius offerings at Azur Lodge is their take on in-room dining. For lunch and dinner, the lodge provides an extensive portfolio of take-out menus in your room – from Asian food to pizza and burgers. Just pick out what you’re in the mood for and the staff will place the order for you, pick it up downtown, and set it up in your room with white linen and silverware. This is the best table in town so don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy it!

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ACTIVITIES

There is SO much to do in Queenstown! As I mentioned, this is the adventure capital of New Zealand and it is also the birthplace of bungee. If you’re up for a major adrenaline rush then this is a great place to skydive or bungee jump. But for the slightly less adventurous out there, I recommend the Shotover Jet, the Luge, e-biking through wine country, and of course, a trip to Milford Sound. Read my full New Zealand post for a recap of everything we did in Queenstown and contact me today to start planning your stay at the beautiful Azur Lodge!

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HOTEL REVIEW: OTAHUNA LODGE

We arrived at Otahuna Lodge late our first evening, after a long day of travel from Kokomo to the main island of Fiji then on to Auckland and finally to Christchurch. Despite the late hour, we were still greeted in the front drive by several staff who helped us with our luggage, gave us a quick tour of the property, showed us to our upgraded Master Suite, and then served us a 3-course dinner at 10 pm. I immediately felt as if I had stepped back in time, to the world of Downton Abbey – we were the Lord & Lady of the Manor here. Words can hardly describe how incredible this hotel was – it was more than a hotel – it was an experience, one that we felt so grateful to have on our Honeymoon and one that left us counting the days until we can return.

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THE HISTORY

Otahuna was built in 1895 for Sir Heaton Rhodes, a Victorian country gentleman, and his wife, Jessie. Sir Heaton lived in the home for 60 years until he passed away at the age of 95, leaving Otahuna (which means “little hill among the hills” in Maori) as his greatest legacy. Though the home has been through several incarnations over the past few decades, it has operated as a hotel since 2007. While privately owned and operated, the property is part of the Relais & Chateaux portfolio and lives up to the brand’s extremely high standards of service, luxury and cuisine.

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THE ROOMS

The property has just 7 rooms, each one of them completely unique in style. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to the Rhodes Suite – 1 of the 2 Master Suites. This series of four rooms was originally the master bedroom for Sir Heaton Rhodes himself – complete with a private verandah, octagonal turret room, a study/foyer and an ensuite bathroom. The accommodation also features beautifully carved woodwork, an operational fireplace and stained glass windows.

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THE CUISINE

Food lovers rejoice at Otahuna! I honestly have probably never had better food in my life. At breakfast, guests are greeted warmly in the country-style kitchen with a slew of freshly baked breads, homemade jams, butter and honey, as well as homemade buffalo yogurt, fresh berries, melon, and of course kiwi! Each day, there will undoubtedly also be a fresh (literally right out of the oven) baked good – perhaps some blueberry muffins or maybe banana chocolate chip. The juicer is also out on the counter, ready to serve up the lodge’s signature Orange-Ginger-Carrot concoction. And a chef in the kitchen can cook up eggs, bacon, sausage to order – or probably any hot breakfast you have in mind. While lunch isn’t included in the rate, ATLAS + VALISE clients receive a complimentary Virtuoso picnic lunch for one day during their stay. We enjoyed this on the back patio – a delicious salad with smoked chicken and vegetables cut from the garden, freshly baked focaccia bread with local olive oil, and a work of art otherwise known as panna cotta with freshly picked berries. Of course there was wine too – whatever wine we wanted! – but I can’t resist a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

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I dare you to go hungry at Otahuna, but if you do, there is a pantry of snacks stocked on the upstairs landing, as well as hot and cold beverages – so help yourself! At dinner time, guests meet in the drawing room for cocktails and canapés before entering the communal dining room for the lodge’s signature 5-course dinner. (Guests can also opt for one of a few private dining locations if they prefer not to eat with the group). Each course is paired with a local New Zealand wine selected by the highly trained server/sommelier. But if you don’t like any of the choices, don’t be shy – just ask for something else.

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THE ACTIVITIES

At the Lodge

  • Tour the Gardens and Visit “Oinkahuna” – Otahuna is home to spectacular gardens, from its massive front lawn and daffodil field, to the vegetable gardens and fruit orchards. You’ll also find some secret garden paths in the woods – leading to hidden clearings and frog ponds. And don’t miss “Oinkahuna” – home to the Lodge’s two pigs. IMG_2298IMG_2296
  • Learn to Cook from a Master – Any visit to Otahuna must include a cooking class. These hands-on lessons are offered in one or three hour formats. We opted for the shorter one, but still learned to make so many different things – from brioche to homemade sorbet, and handmade tortellinis. IMG_2243
  • Bike Ride – The Lodge has bikes on hand if you’re hoping to stretch your legs through the Canterbury countryside. IMG_2231

Nearby

  • Visit Banks Peninsula & Akaroa – One of the main attractions of this area is the historic town of Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula. You can also take a cruise through the Akaroa harbor and see the world’s rarest and smallest dolphins, the Hector’s Dolphins.
  • Take the Tranzalpine railway to Arthur’s Pass National Park – We did this full day trip one of the days at Otahuna. The lodge can arrange a guided tour for you with Canterbury Guiding Co. You’ll be picked up early from the Lodge and driven to a nearby train station to board the Tranzalpine Railway – one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. You’ll follow a river as you climb up into the Southern Alps and Arthur’s Pass National Park. You’ll disembark the train there and meet up again with your guide who will take you on some beautiful hikes before returning back to Christchurch by car. LRG_DSC02445LRG_DSC02449LRG_DSC02476
  • Fly Fishing & More

Rates are inclusive of breakfast and dinner (beverages too). Contact me to book your visit to this amazing property today and receive your exclusive amenity of a complimentary picnic lunch and bottle of wine!

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HOTEL REVIEW: KOKOMO PRIVATE ISLAND FIJI

Bula! If you’re looking for a little slice of paradise for your next vacation, look no further than Kokomo Private Island Fiji. When Australian billionaire, Lang Walker came across an abandoned resort in the Kadavu Islands on a trip to Fiji, he had a vision of creating a unique and exclusive island paradise unlike any other that existed. Fast forward through several years of sustainable development, he has succeeded in achieving just that – all while maintaining the natural beauty and landscape of the rugged Fijian islands. Guests here will feel truly transported; and after a few hours on this remote piece of the earth, the stress of every day life will melt away into the soft, white sand, the lapping ocean, and the stunning sunsets.

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GETTING HERE

Fiji Airways offers direct flights daily from LAX to Nadi, the primary international airport in Fiji. From Nadi, it’s just a quick 45-minute transfer to Kokomo via helicopter or sea plane.

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ACCOMMODATIONS

There is no such thing as a bad room on Kokomo. The parallel beaches on either side of the island are dotted with beachfront villas, ranging from 1 to 3 bedrooms. Each villa is completely private, with the exterior door entering first into a private garden and pathway to the main villa door. The one-bedroom villa (which I stayed in) opens into a comfortable living space and kitchenette (complete with complimentary homemade cookies and dark chocolate covered honeycomb – replenished daily!), a spacious bedroom with a King sized bed and walk-in wardrobe, and an enormous bathroom with an indoor shower, an outdoor shower, a large soaking tub, and his and hers vanities. The entire floor-plan is optimized for the view, as guests can easily step outside onto their private verandah to lounge on the day beds, hammock, or chaise lounges, take a dip in their private plunge pool or walk just steps to the beach and swim in the ocean. This space is the ultimate retreat for privacy and indoor/outdoor living.

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But the property doesn’t just cater to couples. The 2 to 3 bedroom beachfront villas are perfect for families. And for multigenerational groups, Kokomo also offers an array of luxury residences ranging from 3-6 bedrooms. Slightly more modern in their design, and perched on a hill in the central part of the island, the residences are still incredibly luxurious and all offer private pools along with full kitchens, nanny and butler service.

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DINING

All meals are included in your rate at Kokomo so you can eat until your heart’s content! There are three dining venues on the island:

  • Beach Shack – This is the primary dining room, located in the main lodge building.
    • For breakfast, a beautiful continental spread is set-up with fresh baked breads and pastries, local fruit and fresh juices. You can also order off the menu for specialty hot, made-to-order items such as eggs and waffles. F0282C79-75C0-444A-8083-31D8E35426CC
    • Lunch is fresh-caught local fish or meat and salads with vegetables from the on-island farm.
    • If you’re hungry for a snack or a drink in the afternoon, pop-in for an array of sweets and savory bites at the bar. IMG_2001
    • And for dinner, indulge in a five-course tasting menu. IMG_2150
  • Walker d’Plank – Set-off in a cove past the main jetty on the island, you’ll find a true treasure – Walker d’Plank, open for lunch and dinner. Here, Chef Caroline serves up Asian-inspired street food, like crispy tempura prawns, chicken and scallion dumplings, and even sushi. But there is no menu here. Chef Caroline will come to each table to talk to you about your cravings for the day, then she’ll make a few suggestions and cook up something special just for you. IMG_20469F732F74-56B1-4541-ADE9-372B772446C4
  • Kokocabana – Located adjacent to the resort pool and kids clubs, this pizza parlor and ice cream stand, is clearly intended for the younger visitors to Kokomo. But that didn’t really stop us from enjoying their wood-fired pizzas, burgers and milkshakes for a more casual lunch. DSC02408

Want food delivered to your room? No problem. Looking for a private cook-out and dining experience? That can be arranged! I also strongly recommend you take advantage of the farm tour to see how they provide the majority of the food for guests on the island in an organic and sustainable way.

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ACTIVITIES

Despite being on a remote island, you will not get bored at Kokomo. Included in your rate are all on-island activities and non-motorized water sports: a fitness center, tennis, basketball, snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, a sea trampoline, yoga, and cultural activities. Guests can also arrange excursions each day for an additional fee. We enjoyed scuba diving, a waterfall hike on a nearby island, and snorkeling at the Astrolabe reef. For those interested in fishing, I think the ability to catch your dinner would be quite a treat!

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I also definitely recommend a visit (or two) to the Yaukuve Spa Sanctuary, where you can enjoy a massage, facial or body treatment.

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WHY VISIT

First off, this is paradise – it’s luxury perfectly blended with nature. You will feel completely relaxed from the minute you step off the sea plane or helicopter. But what really sets this place apart is the staff. Guests are welcomed with traditional Fijian songs and fresh cut coconuts. Staff are all over the resort, smiling, shouting Bula! and ensuring that you don’t have to worry about a stray palm leaf or where to find your next drink. This is not another chain resort – but a truly Fijian experience, where you’ll feel immersed in the culture and friendliness of the country.

ATLAS + VALISE Perks: By booking this property with ATLAS + VALISE, an affiliate of Travel Edge and member of Virtuoso, guests will be treated to an exclusive welcome amenity, early check-in/late check-out and a $100 resort credit to be utilized during your stay.

Looking for an escape to paradise? Contact us today to book your escape to Kokomo!

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HOTEL REVIEW: TWIN FARMS

Is anyone else’s favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas? Visiting Twin Farms last week reminded me of the quintessential Vermont resort in that movie. Full of rustic charm and piled high with snow, this Relais Chateaux property is the ideal winter retreat. Secluded among 300 acres of meadow and forest in Barnard, VT, the property allows only its guests to enjoy the extraordinary dining and amenities, offering a truly intimate and private experience. 

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THE HISTORY

The original hotel building was the home of Sinclair Lewis and his wife, Dorothy Thompson, who bought the property in 1928. The story goes that Dorothy required Sinclair to purchase two neighboring farms for her as a wedding present, hence the name “Twin Farms.” Restored by a group of owners in the early 1990s, Twin Farms opened its doors to guests in 1993 and has been wowing luxury vacationers ever since.

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THE ROOMS

The hotel boasts 20 unique rooms – 10 suites and 10 cottages. Six suites reside in the original house and lodge, while another 4 suites sit just across the dirt road in a newly developed building, The Farmhouse at Copper Hill. Those suites share a communal hot tub and living area and make the perfect retreat for a larger group or family.  The 10 cottages are spread throughout the property on a 1 mile loop from the main building, each with its own carport, wood-burning fireplace, sitting area, and King-sized bed. Each cottage is decorated with a bespoke theme and offers differing amenities from private hot tubs to floor-to-ceiling windows. The resort has a residence perfect for each visitor and the staff takes care to match potential guests with the room that best matches their preferences. IMG_1097IMG_1099IMG_1101IMG_1115IMG_1112IMG_1109

DINING

Though the rates are steep, they are all inclusive of meals and beverages. And if you’ve visited a Relais Chateaux property before, you’ll know that the cuisine is not to be missed! I was fortunate enough to enjoy a lunch in the on-site dining room and we were treated to an unbelievable three course menu complete with perfectly-selected wines. While there are no set meal times at the hotel, there are meal windows: 7-10 for breakfast, 12:30-1:30 for lunch and 6-8:30 for dinner. Guests can also request meals in their room or cottage. Prior to dinner, cocktails and canapés are served in the living room by the fire and after dinner (or any time really), you can head to the on-site “pub” for a night cap. 

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ACTIVITIES

In the winter, the hotel offers a variety of outdoor activities, including: skiing on its private 6-trail ski hill, sledding, snowshoeing, and ice skating. For those averse to the cold, you can enjoy the state-of-the-art fitness center or book a treatment with the spa. Fitness classes are also offered regularly. In the summertime, guests can kayak, SUP and canoe on the on-site pond, hike along groomed trails, bike, fly-fish, or play tennis. 

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Several times a year, the property also hosts a Murder Mystery Weekend where all guests participate. They even hire professional actors to amp up the fun!

Travel Advisor Perks: By booking this property with ATLAS + VALISE, an affiliate of Travel Edge and member of Virtuoso, guests will be treated to an exclusive welcome amenity, early check-in/late check-out and upgrade on arrival (all subject to availability).

Looking for the quintessential New England getaway this winter? Contact us today to book an escape to Twin Farms.

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HOTEL REVIEW: THE GARLAND

Planning a weekend getaway to Hollywood? Whether you’re visiting Universal Studios (as I was) or just looking for an affordable yet chic place to stay in Los Angeles, The Garland is a perfect option.

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Two weeks ago, my fiance and I drove up to LA on a random Thursday to celebrate his birthday at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (yep this is how you celebrate 35!). It’s a bit of a hike from San Diego and so we decided to spend the night up there. Looking for a hotel near the Park, I was immediately disappointed by the plethora of Burbank Airport hotel options. I wanted something cool and unique and worthy of a birthday night away. That’s when I stumbled upon The Garland. Just a 10 minutes’ drive from Universal, this place feels like a world away. Plus they have a complimentary trolley that runs a regular route to/from the park so you can down those Butterbeers without worry!

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Originally built in the 1970s by Hollywood actress Beverly Garland and her husband Fillmore Crank, the hotel was redone in the early 2000s by their son (and now owner) James. I was so impressed with how James and his team were able to modernize the hotel without sacrificing any of the 70’s Retro charm – the orange accents and funky fabrics blend perfectly with modern design touches like unique light fixtures, a hip new restaurant and manicured lawns and parks.

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The Rooms are all well appointed and comfortable – each with a private balcony and your very own paparazzi closet!

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After a long day walking around Universal Studios, we immediately headed to the pool after check-in. We picked up some drinks at The Spritz Hour (a very on-trend happy hour) and relaxed on the chaise lounges poolside before taking a dip in the hot tub.

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We also decided to make it easy on ourselves and eat our meals at the on-site restaurant, The Front Yard. We were certainly not disappointed. The food was innovative and delicious and the service was excellent. Do yourself a favor and save room for dessert – chocolate nutella cake? Yes please.

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I would definitely recommend a stay at The Garland to anyone visiting Hollywood for a trip to Universal Studios. For assistance booking your trip to Universal Studios, please contact us today!

And for those wondering about how magical The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is…

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HOTEL REVIEW: RITZ CARLTON HALF MOON BAY

Located just 30 minutes south of San Francisco, serene Half Moon Bay is an ideal weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. And for a luxurious accommodation in the area, look no further than the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay. Perched upon a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this resort features two iconic golf courses, a world-class spa, and postcard-perfect sunsets.

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The Rooms

Ritz Carlton accommodations never disappoint, but the rooms at the Half Moon Bay property are incredibly spacious and luxurious. The muted blue palette is peaceful and perfectly reflective of the tranquil ocean setting. Feather beds are adorned with 400-thread count Egyptian cotton linens and 100% goose down pillows. After sunset, guests can shut their blinds electronically from a switch at their bedside. And in the morning, guests can enjoy a fresh cup of coffee from the in-room Nespresso.

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The roomy marble bathroom includes an oversized soaking tub, a standing shower, a large vanity area complete with Asprey London bath products, and plush terry-cloth robes.

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Resort Amenities

The resort is well known for its two championship golf courses: The Ocean Course and the Old Course. Guests can also pursue athletics by renting one of the six lighted tennis courts, swimming laps in the indoor heated swimming pool, running or walking along the Coastal Trails, or enjoying the on-site fitness center. For guests looking for some more R&R, the 16,000 square foot spa and beauty salon offer a variety of treatments.

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In my opinion the most enjoyable activity at the resort is sitting out on the back lawn at one of the three large gas fire pits with a glass of local wine, listening to the bagpiper as the sun sets over the Pacific.

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Dining

  • The Ocean Terrace: Open 12 pm – Sunset, the ocean terrace offers ideal alfresco dining for lunch or an afternoon snack and cocktail
  • The Conservatory: Open 11 am – 11 pm, The Conservatory highlights fresh, organic and community-grown ingredients as well as cocktails crafted with ingredients from the living wall
  • Navio: Open for dinner Thursday-Sunday, Navio offers a more upscale dining experience featuring seafood and coastal Californian cuisine
  • Cork Wine Bar & Library Bar: Adjacent to the lobby, the Cork Wine Bar offers an intimate setting to sample California wines. The adjacent Library Bar is often used for events.

Area Activities

The resort offers a whole list of area activities to enjoy. On prior trips, I have spent time exploring the small town of Half Moon Bay, eating at the local fish shacks along the main wharf, and walking along the famed Half Moon Bay beaches.

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On this most recent visit, I also had the opportunity to hike in a young Redwood Forest, located just 10 minutes drive from the hotel.

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I also highly recommend taking advantage of the Coastal Trails adjacent to the resort. I thoroughly enjoyed my morning run at sunrise.

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The Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay is a truly magical place and if you’re looking for a romantic (or even a family or solo getaway), you will find peace and indulgence at this hotel.

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HOTEL REVIEW: ROSEWOOD INN OF THE ANASAZI

There are so many hotels to choose from in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but I was particularly drawn to the elegant modern design and optimal location of Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi. Just steps from the historic plaza at the center of Santa Fe, Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi offers all the comforts of home with a southwestern flair.

Established in 1979, Rosewood manages a collection of 18 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide. Led by young CEO Sonia Cheng, Rosewood has recently refreshed its brand under the new motto:“A Sense of Place – A personal journey of authentic and exquisite discoveries.”

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The Rooms

I was so excited when I walked into my room at the Inn – the team of Rosewood has really thought of everything. The giant king sized bed was topped with a plush comforter, piles of soft white pillows and authentic southwestern textiles. On the side of the bed, was a beautiful desk, perfect for catching up on emails in the morning over a cup of tea (also provided!). The gas fireplace was perfectly poised with two cozy chairs in front, just waiting for me to curl up with a good book. Finally, the bathroom had a massive bathtub complete with complimentary lavender bath salts. And of course, there were robes and slippers available as well as snacks and other goodies in the mini bar.

Turn-down service also went above and beyond, with complimentary cookies laid out on my pillow, soothing music turned on the radio, and even a humidifier set out by the fireplace to fight off the dry air.

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The Library

The Inn has two beautiful library rooms on the main floor that guests can relax in at any time of day. Early in the morning, they serve complimentary tea and coffee here for guests.

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The Anasazi Restaurant

I had a delectable meal at the Anasazi Restaurant the night I spent at the Inn. Like all other spaces in the hotel, the room was exquisitely designed in a relaxed, yet modern take on traditional southwestern style.  The service was also top notch. During warmer months, the restaurant also offers outdoor patio seating.

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Anasazi Bar & Lounge

Just off the restaurant, the Anasazi Bar & Lounge is the perfect place to enjoy a Silver Coin margarita and indulge in some Para Picar, or small plates. On Saturday nights, live musicians play in the bar starting at 7 pm.

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Other Amenities 

If you have time, the hotel offers in-room massage and aromatherapy services which I’m sure are divine.

The hotel website also provides a full list of “Things to Do” in Santa Fe or you can check out my other post explaining the full itinerary of my weekend exploring the city and its environs.

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HOTEL REVIEW: WOODSTOCK INN & RESORT

Woodstock, Vermont is the quintessential New England town and one of my absolute favorite places to visit, especially in Autumn when the trees light up in bright hues of red, orange and yellow. Given that I have family in the area, I typically don’t have the opportunity to stay at the Woodstock Inn & Resort, but I was incredibly lucky this year to have won a three-night stay at the hotel in a raffle fundraiser!

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About the Inn

The original Woodstock Inn was built in 1892 in response to the tourism boom of the mid-19th century. Located in the heart of Woodstock Village, the Inn quickly became a popular vacation destination for affluent travelers looking to escape city life for a week or two, particularly during the winter season.

In 1967, Laurance Rockefeller, a Woodstock resident and owner of RockResorts, purchased the original hotel, planning to completely rebuild the facilities; and in 1969, the Inn reopened as the resort we know today. Since then, the Inn has been extended on four separate occasions and just recently completed a beautiful renovation to the lobby and main shared areas to maintain a modern yet traditional design.

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The Rooms

The current Inn has 142 rooms and suites, each carefully designed to reflect Vermont’s signature style of rustic comfort. The rooms feature large-frame wood beamed beds with plush comforters, mountains of white pillows and hand-dyed blankets. The furnishings brilliantly blend modern elegance with Laurance Rockefeller’s historic vision.

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Amenities

One of my favorite places to sit at the Inn is in the main lobby in front of the huge fireplace. Especially on a chilly fall day, this is the perfect place to warm up.

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My second favorite place to sit is in the Conservatory enjoying the complimentary afternoon tea and cookies (served daily at 4 pm).

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Just across from the Conservatory, the Inn has one of the best Gift Shops you’ll find in any hotel, featuring iconic local artists such as Simon Pearce, Andrew Pearce and Farmhouse Pottery.

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Finally, the Inn has two game rooms – one on the lower level catered towards kids which features a pool table, a giant scrabble board, pinball machines and shuffleboard. The ‘adult’ game room (or Library) on the main floor is situated to the right of the lobby and includes tables with puzzles, backgammon and chess.

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The Spa at The Woodstock Inn

Do not miss the spa! Every time I visit Woodstock with my family, we take a group outing to the spa at the Inn. The 10,000 square foot LEED-certified facility is state of the art, with fully outfitted locker rooms (including steam rooms and showers), a gorgeous lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows (third favorite place to sit!), an outdoor seating area with a jacuzzi and pool access, and 10 treatment rooms. The spa therapists are top-notch and you’ll leave your treatment feeling perfectly relaxed. You can also order food and drinks in the lounge area – I recommend having a mini bottle of prosecco post-treatment.

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Dining: The Red Rooster

The Red Rooster, which is the main restaurant at the Inn, offers some of the best dining Woodstock has to offer. As a hotel guest, you can dine here for breakfast with a full buffet on weekdays (including an omelet station) and a choice of breakfast menu or buffet on weekends. On my recent trip, I had the most delicious fluffy blueberry pancakes!

I also definitely recommend making a reservation here for lunch or dinner, which features delicious craft cocktails and farm fresh cuisine.

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Activities

There are so many activities available to guests of the Woodstock Inn! Beyond afternoon tea, the game rooms, and the spa, the Inn also has a beautiful outdoor pool, as well as access to the tennis courts, fitness classes, and golf course located next door at the Woodstock Athletic Club and the Woodstock Country Club. One of the newer activities, is the Inn’s falconry program, which allows guests to get up close and personal with these beautiful birds. Resort guests also receive complimentary admission to Billings Farm and the Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historic Park.

And finally, the town of Woodstock offers plentiful outdoor activities such as hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter – not to mention the great shopping and restaurants only a stone’s throw from the hotel.

Planning a stay at the Woodstock Inn? Check out my full guide to Woodstock, Vermont!

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