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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HOTEL REVIEW: COSTANOA LODGE

Costanoa Lodge is nestled just south of San Francisco (just over an hour’s drive) in Pescadero, California – the perfect setting for a weekend getaway off the grid. The drive down from San Fran is beautiful, winding south along the coast on Highway 1.

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View of the California Coast in Pescadero

When you arrive at rustic Costanoa Lodge, you have three different options for lodging: you can bring your own camper and park in one of the RV spots on the vast property; you can opt for a more traditional hotel experience and stay in the lodge building itself or one of several cabins; or you can opt for the full glamping experience with one of Costanoa’s “tent bungalows.” I chose the third option, and it was absolutely lovely. The tented cabin was quaint and clean, complete with a queen-sized bed, wood floor, electricity, and 2 Adirondack chairs out front to soak up the woods view or stargaze. The cabin also comes with towels, a robe, and a shower basket (complete with shampoo and soap) to take to one of the many “comfort stations” located around the property. The comfort stations are also clean and well-lit and even have outdoor shower options to add to the rustic camping experience.

When we arrived at Costanoa, our first stop was the spa, which is small, but offers delightful massages. Next, we headed over to the Pine Tent area in the campground for a glass of wine and to enjoy some live music.

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View of the California Coast in Pescadero

The Pine Tent also serves up some BBQ options for casual dining. (It also serves coffee, tea and breakfast burritos in the morning). For a more fine dining experience, head over to Cascade Bar & Grill, which serves delicious food (although the service was a little off the night we were there).

Costanoa and the surrounding area offers plenty to do: from hikes along the sand dunes (look out for seals) and up in the hills, to horseback riding, and exploring the downtown strip of Pescadero. But one of my favorite things about my stay at Costanoa was the time to relax and unplug. While Costanoa does offer free Wifi throughout the camp, unless you turn it on, you won’t have any cell phone service. The views are beautiful and the stargazing is tremendous. We spent lots of time, sitting outside, drinking wine and enjoying the camping experience. There is definitely something rejuvenating about spending a few days out in nature to put life in perspective.

Sunset in Pescadero
Sunset in Pescadero