The Maldives: Your Uncrowded Covid Safe Island Retreat

Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa

With the lowest villa density in the Maldives, Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa is one of the most private islands in the archipelago. You know what that means? Less people, less chances of catching Covid!

Prioritizing safety and seamlessness, Emerald has launched a series of new private experiences, each included in the Deluxe All-Inclusive offering – from private Teppanyaki classes to luxury boat trips.

The stunning Maldives property from above

One of the archipelago’s most exclusive all-inclusive, The Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa has launched a selection of new, private experiences for couples, families and small groups of friends looking to re-connect after a year apart. Here, privacy doesn’t have to cost the earth – each experience is included as part of the island’s Deluxe All-Inclusive offering – from private boat and snorkelling adventures, to cooking classes and private dining on the beach.

You’ll find me here

The island, which spans just 250 acres, possesses the lowest villa density in the Maldives, offering guests a completely private and undisturbed experience. Head out onto the tranquil Indian Ocean on a luxury boat and prowl the pristine lagoon in search of tropical fish and manta rays, rubbing shoulders with the resident marine life and exploring the colourful coral on snorkelling trips. Adventurous travellers (like me, of course) can head out into the deeper ocean on a diving excursion, or try their hand at wind surfing, kayaking or jet skiing.

I’m hungry for some island time already

Back on dry land, I plan to start my day with a floating breakfast in my private pool, or enjoying an exclusive private dining experience on the beach (inspiring photo above). For a hands-on foodie experience for someone like my amateur chef hubs, they have private Teppanyaki cooking classes with one of Emerald’s expert chefs at Le Asiatique Restaurant; learn to prepare fresh-from-the-ocean seafood and island ingredients with true Teppanyaki flair. While children are under the watchful eye of Dolphin Kids’ Club, I’ll finally be able to relax with a private yoga session or toast to my island escape experience with a creative cocktail in the Sunset Pool Café with views over the azure ocean. Now who’s paying?

20% off best available rate for a minimum of 7 night’s stay for a maximum of two adults and two children, applicable for all bookings received before February 28th 2021. Offer includes deluxe all-inclusive package, complimentary 60 minutes massage for two adults OR 1x cooking class for the whole family and 1 x in-room family breakfast.

Rates start from £700 (approx. $955) per night on a deluxe-all-inclusive basis

http://www.emerald-maldives.com

Explore Alaska’s Most Scenic Wonders in Winter

Alaska Awaits

Alaska is open, y’all, and it’s ideal for families and friends who dream of exploring America’s greatest wildernesses free of crowds and against a pristine white canvas. Imagine skiing through forests, wildlife spotting, flightseeing above multicolored geysers and glaciers cresting on the snow, and a vastness only available in the quiet of winter. Abercrombie & Kent’s U.S. Luxury Tailor Made itineraries, which can be customized to your private party’s interests, feature handpicked local guides, fun activities that naturally lend themselves to social distancing, and luxurious accommodations. You can even book with confidence knowing you can reschedule your journey due to COVID-19, and that they have enhanced protocols in place to safeguard your health while travelling. This is numero uno in my book since I’ve been sheltering in place for almost a year and need to know things are on the up and up.

Our recent travel dream favorite is their Call of the Iditarod series because I’ve always been obsessed with riding a husky driven sled through the snow like a Russian Bond Girl.

You too?

Well, we can celebrate Alaska’s famed Iditarod dogsled race, watching the participants prepare and depart from Anchorage on their 1,000-mile trek, witnessing their arrival at an important checkpoint near your remote wilderness lodge. You can dogsled yourself along the rugged Iditarod trail on this independent journey filled with the splendors of Alaskan wilderness.

The skinny:

  • Join Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous festival, giving the Iditarod teams a ceremonial send-off
  • Take in the buzz of Iditarod mushers and their teams arrive at a remote checkpoint
  • Choose from an array of outdoor activities, including the option to drive your own dogsled team
  • Discover the history of Alaska’s indigenous culture and art in Anchorage

Itinerary at a Glance

DAY 1

ARRIVE ANCHORAGE, ALASKA 

DAY 2

ANCHORAGE | CELEBRATING THE IDITAROD

DAY 3

WINTERLAKE LODGE | SCENIC WILDERNESS FLIGHT

DAYS 4–5

WINTERLAKE LODGE | IDITAROD MUSHERS’ ARRIVE

DAY 6

WINTERLAKE LODGE | DOGSLEDDING & THE GREAT OUTDOORS

DAY 7

ANCHORAGE | EXPERIENCING INDIGENOUS CULTURE

DAY 8

DEPART ANCHORAGE
INCLUDED WITH EVERY LUXURY TAILOR MADE JOURNEY
  • One-of-a-kind Itinerary Designed for You
  • Driver-guide and vehicle
  • Hand-Selected Accommodations
  • Exclusive Insider-Access Opportunities and Inspiring Sightseeing
  • English-Speaking Local Guides
  • Airport Meet and Greet with Private Transfers
  • Full Breakfast Daily
  • Entrance Fees and Taxes
  • 24/7 A&K On-Call Support

Want more info? I don’t blame you.

Check this link and get on it: https://www.abercrombiekent.com/tours/luxury-tailor-made-travel/2021/alaska-call-of-the-iditarod

Winter Vacation Ideas

With temperatures already dipping below freezing in parts of the United States, it seems like an appropriate time to address the “winter blues” and how a safe vacation can often be the cure. Everyone has a different goal when it comes to a winter getaway – some want to embrace a snowy environment, while others prefer to follow the sun. For those who, like me, aren’t ready to fly until the vaccine is widely available, here are some top winter vacation ideas for destinations across the country.

Sonoran Desert Bike Tour, Tucson

1. Desert Cycling Getaway: Escape Adventures offers a five-day winter cycling retreat in America’s Southwestern prize – Tucson, Arizona. Rated as the country’s second most bike-friendly city, this velo dreamscape offers an ideal escape with seemingly endless backroads through vast expanses of desert and world-class ascents like Mount Lemmon. https://escapeadventures.com/tour/arizona-tucson-and-the-sonoran-desert-road-bike-tour

Red Reflet Ranch, Wyoming

2. Wintertime Cowboy Retreat: Venture to Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains for a retreat at Red Reflet Ranch that combines limitless outdoor recreation and gourmet food with remote winter splendor. Step outside your luxurious accommodations to explore 30,000 stunning acres of wilderness by snowshoe, snowmobile or horseback. The local ski hill is only 45 minutes away and offers great skiing and snowboarding. https://red-reflet-ranch.net

The Wilson Hotel, Yellowstone

3. Ski Big Sky Country: On the edge of Yellowstone National Park in Big Sky, Montana, find one of the largest ski resorts in North America. With 5,850 acres of terrain descending from the 11,666-foot summit of Lone Peak, Big Sky Resort offers plenty of space to spread out. A stay at The Wilson Hotel in Town Center provides ample accommodations and easy access to the slopes, as well as to ice skating, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding and Yellowstone tours. https://thewilsonhotel.com

The Blacksford

4. Explore National Parks by RV: Each summer, millions travel to visit our national parks. Yet these warm-season sightseers are missing what might be the parks’ best-kept secret – winter. Once-crowded trails turn into tranquil getaways. Quiet winter wonderlands showcase nature’s calm beauty. Blacksford is a new RV rental business offering an all-inclusive pricing model that includes unlimited miles, 24-hour roadside assistance and a free annual pass to national parks. https://www.blacksford.com

Fireside Resort, Jackson Hole

5. Tiny House Ski Retreat: Just minutes from Jackson Hole, Fireside Resort capitalizes on the tiny house craze and the classic appeal of rustic cottages by offering 25 pint-size, luxuriously outfitted tiny house rental units designed by Wheelhaus. Each has its own outdoor fire pit and deck. And the resort is located just a stone’s throw from Jackson Hole’s ski slopes. https://www.firesidejacksonhole.com

6. Cycling the Sunshine State: Leave the winter riding gear at home and follow Adventure Cycling Association’s Florida Connector route for a loop around the Sunshine State by bike. Pedal south from St. Augustine past orange groves and sinkholes, skirt Orlando and arrive at the Gulf of Mexico at Fort Myers Beach. Turning east, watch for alligators on the way to Lake Okeechobee, then join the Atlantic Coast route in Fort Lauderdale and return north to the start. https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/florida-connector/

Devil’s Thumb Ranch

7. Cross-Country Ski Getaway: Ranked #1 Cross-Country Ski Resort in North America by USA Today, Devil’s Thumb Ranch offers 120 kilometers of classic and skate-ready cross-country ski trails. Only 75 miles west of Denver and 15 minutes from Winter Park, Devil’s Thumb recently unveiled a private enclave of 24 custom homesites for those who want to live on the award-winning guest ranch full-time. https://www.devilsthumbranch.com/ranches

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Daily Rituals: Essential Oils Set

Eight Saints Skincare “Daily Rituals” set

Customize your vibes. Morning, noon, and night and tap into the power of essential oils. Just in time for the holidays Eight Saints Skincare drops their Daily Ritual Essential Oils Set ($79), three unique essential oils for three parts of your day or mood.

Eight Saints Skincare products are all derived from the chosen “eight saints” including highly effective and proven skincare ingredients. These ingredients can also be found in their new aromatherapy products, made to boost circulation, reduce headaches, soothe anxiety, and help to fade scars and stretch marks.

The set include three scents:

WOKE UP LIKE THIS – Energizing notes of geranium, French lavender, a punch of jasmine and uplifting ylang ylang are meant to jumpstart your day, evoking feelings of peace, well-being, and self-confidence. You don’t need to be a morning person to have a good morning. This blend is also good for boosting circulation and reducing headaches when applied to pulse points. The Chamomile can be especially beneficial in helping calm anxiety when flying and Geranium acts natural mosquito repellant.

ISSA VIBE– Sometimes a day can get away from you… You’re vibin’ and suddenly you hit a wave of anxiety, a wave of unsteadiness. Take a moment to soothe and comfort your psyche. This blend mixes sophisticated, sweet, and woodsy varieties like balsam and sandalwood that counteract stress and help ground your mood. Vibe out the rest of the day, you got this. Tip: Apply before happy hour, why not improve everyone’s mood? For centuries sandalwood blends have been the preferred choice for meditation. Roll on palms and work through ends of hair for added shine and restored moisture.

NIGHTY NIGHT – WE MADE IT! Unwind and settle into the chill zone. Blended with calming lavender, frankincense, and comforting chamomile, this blend encourages relaxation and sweet, sweet dreams.

Bonus: We love this aromatherapy blend for PMS and cramps. Apply directly to painful, achy joints. Massage onto feet hitting various reflexology points.

Directions: Apply to temples, wrists, and behind ears. Additionally, Roll-ons work well when applied to pulse points like inner elbows, sides of the neck, or backs of knees. Keep in mind, these are not perfumes, so they won’t be strong and, even for aromatherapy scents, they’re on the subtle side, but the notes work with with one another and I can’t resist a good ylang ylang.

Price: $79

Eight Saints Skincare

The Perfect Gift for Mom, Sister, Wife… or Lover

More is More, a beautiful customizable fragrance by the always luxe and classic Judith Leiber

Talk about a special treat. The gift of this fragrance opened up a new designer door of culture for me. I’m talking about Judith Leiber. You’ve probably heard her name, if you haven’t been lucky enough to own one of her purses yet. They’re special – and special occasion – pieces, so you’ve likely looked longingly at one in a glass case as it sparkled under bright department store lights.

Like this kitschy beauty, which sells for around $5,900 at Bergdorf Goodman

I first heard of Judith Leiber over 30 years ago from my beautiful (and oh so classy aunt), Candace, who lived in the Hollywood Hills. She was married to a hot shot screenwriter who made it in the 1970s and 80s, so she knew all of the beautiful designers. Judith Leiber was already a classic by the time I was a kid. She was known for her beautifully crafted, intricately jeweled minaudières, evening purses made of a metal shell usually encrusted with Swarovski crystals, plated with silver or gold in fun designs like a peach, peacock, watermelon, cupcakes, or snakes.

One of many Judith Leiber masterpieces

And now her legacy lives on with the first daily customizable fragrance. Fashioned in a stunning sculpted perfume bottle adorned with Swarovski crystals, this isn’t your ordinary perfume. It’s a piece of olfactory heaven and a gem for the bathroom or vanity — just like her handbags.

With More is More you can choose from three separate scents that work together as one, depending on your mood or flavor that day. Just select from a sliding dial at the top to get More Gourmand, More Zest, or More Floral and create your own mix. It’s the perfect gift for the maximalist (or minimalist who likes variety) in your life.

How it Works!

FYI: Jerome di Marino, the nose behind the fragrance, loves combining More Gourmand with a touch of More Floral for an indulgent, sexy scent. So, yeah, this is pretty much the perfect gift for any woman in your life.

The legend herself, Judith Leiber

But perhaps the most fascinatingly beautiful thing about this brand is the origin story of survival… the woman herself, Judith Leiber aka. Judit Pető. While researching this piece, I learned that she fled Nazi Europe from Hungary, lived in a house with other refugees, and finally made it to America to find success and meet/marry her first and only husband of over 70 years. She was awarded the highest honors for design in her field, has a museum of her works, and, if all that isn’t impressive and interesting enough, she passed away just a few hours after her husband at the ripe old age of 97. Talk about a long, amazing life filled with survival, beauty, and art.

Looks gorgeous, smells great, feels good. Your mom or wife or girlfriend will thank me.

More is More by Judith Leiber

Skin Remedies for Winter

Moon Juice, Rose Gold, and The Glow Up from Herb & Myth

I need juice. Juice for my face, juice for my body, juice for my soul! Come winter, I don’t know about you, but I need nourishment.

Enter: MOON JUICE, THE GLOW UP & ROSE GOLD from one of my favorite proprietors of organic skincare, Herb & Myth. Founded by Sarita Valdes, an ex-ballroom dancer/artist turned herbalist and aesthetician-in-training in Tacoma, Washington, this beauty line is one of the purest, best organic beauty brands on the market. I call it Farm-to-Face as she curates and collects herbs and essential oils from her vast connections at organic farms in the Pacific Northwest. She doesn’t believe in cutting corners, so things like her non-alcohol packed with essential oils organic mouthwash (which I swear by!) may not run cheap, but you’d be hard pressed to find a fresher, better tasting mouthwash on the market. I didn’t even care about mouthwash before trying hers. It wasn’t part of my repertoire. Until now.

Skin Food… because my skin is hungryyyyy

Her new serums plan to be my winter salvation alongside my staple organic moisturizer, Skin Food, which works beautifully on my sensitive, sometimes acne prone, skin. Everything is pure glow, pure non-comedogenic, pure Herb and Myth.

www.herbandmyth.com

24 Hours in Sonoma, California

Vintage Plane Spotting with my sweet ride, Black Truffle, in Sonoma

I needed a break. Work was all encompassing. It was time to take matters into my hands. I had to channel the Layla I used to know and love. The Layla I had ignored for structure, order, and responsibility. It was time to throw caution to the wind and channel my inner spontaneous bon vivant.

I went onto Hotel Tonight on Friday night. The next thing I knew I was spending 24 hours in Sonoma at the Sonoma Hotel, a quaint historic inn smack dab in the center of Sonoma Square.

Sonoma Hotel… ain’t it cute?!

We didn’t want to drive once we started tasting (obviously), so, after searching for hotels in the center of town that were available last minute, reasonably priced, and walking distance to tasting rooms, we settled on the Sonoma Hotel ($200/night). It was adorable and just what we thought it would be. Quaint. Simple. Clean. Reviews were accurate about one thing. The walls are thin. Thankfully, after several tastings and general parenting exhaustion from the week/years, we fell asleep at around 10pm and didn’t hear a thing.

Tasca Tasca

Since this trip was completely spontaneous, we didn’t make a single reservation, but that wasn’t a problem. We headed for a late lunch at Tasca Tasca, a Portuguese tapas & wine boite served in a charming, European space. The above photo (from left to right) is their 7 item sampler. Perfect for two. We ordered kale salad (I’d probably pass on this next time or get the dressing on the side as it was a bit tart for my taste), blood sausage (husband loved it), ceviche (good and healthy since we wanted to drink our calories), crab empanadas (solid), Queijo de Sao Jorge cheese (I’d pass and try something else), Linguica Caseira (delicious traditional Portuguese sausage), and Bacalhau (salt cod cakes… can I get a ‘Si?’)

Sonoma Goods

We then walked off the food by visiting the Mission and reading about the history of Sonoma. One thing missing – the history of the Miwok and Suisunes people. All mentions of indigenous culture appear erased. Note to the Sonoma Tourist Board: rectify that situation, please. First, you see the servants quarters of General Vallejo’s home, La Casa Grande, built in the 1830s which later became the center of social life north of San Francisco. General Vallejo was born in California, but Mexico controlled the area at the time. In 1846, he was confronted by leaders of the Bear Flag Party (yes, that’s where the Bear Flag originates!). California was home to American settlers who didn’t trust their Mexican rulers. When rumors of an impending war between the US and Mexico came to California, according to Wikipedia, The California Republic, or Bear Flag Republic, was born as an unrecognized “breakaway state” from Mexico. For 25 days, the Sonoma area was controlled by the settlers and the breakdown of Mexican rule began.

Passagio Wines

After our tour of the town’s Mission and history, we were thirsty. Next up: wine at Passaggio Wines in the Sonoma shops. Since I’m a lover of white wines, I’d read that Passaggio had a nice selection. My tasting included their 2019 Sauvignon Blanc from Albini Vineyards in Sonoma, their 2019 Chenin Blanc from Heringer Estates in Clarksburg (my favorite tasting for its light clean aftertaste), and the 2019 Tempranillo rose (aka. Rose Colored Glasses). Steve, the sommelier, gave us a great history of the wines and the shop. Apparently, the owner used to work in law enforcement and, later in her career, decided to study wine making to eventually open the shop.

Life goals!

Day Boat Scallops

We then took walk around town to burn off calories and moved onto dinner. Since we enjoyed the tapas spot, we decided to try their sister restaurant, La Salette. I guess we were in the mood for Portuguese. My husband ordered a Wood Oven Roasted Octopus with sweet onion purée, red wine vinegar, and fried potato ($16) to start and he said it was delicious. I ordered the Chouriço Crusted Day Boat Scallops, Japanese sweet potato purée, leek confit, and molho cru ($17). The scallops were fantastic and cooked to perfection. The chourico (chorizo) crust was an excellent touch with its the firm consistency and succulent flavor. I also loved the leek confit mixed with the Japanese yam purée. Everything tasted filling, yet fresh and healthy. For our main, we shared the Bacalhau no Forno, a traditional baked casserole of north Atlantic salt cod, potatoes, onions, and olives ($27) because we love Bacalhau. What can I say? We ate it twice in one day! The other items looked wonderful, but we were pretty full from eating and drinking throughout the day. That said, we finished with a port flight and dessert because… rice pudding with cinnamon, madeira braised fig and toucinho do céu (an almond cake that almost tastes like caramelized fluffy oranges).

La Salette’s traditional dessert tasting

From there, we took the short walk through the quaint city square, made it to our warm hotel room above The Girl & The Fig (another local fave), and it was… 24 hrs. of bliss.

Protective Masks for Travel

HALOmasks

In the search for comfortable well made masks with filters, I came across HALOmasks. They feature proprietary SETA Nanofilter technology, proven to capture 98.8% of virtually all airborne pathogens and contaminants, including coronavirus.

Since I’m always on the hunt for lightweight, but effective, it’s 95% bamboo and 5% spandex for shape retention and stretch. The other nice part? HALOLIFE gives back to its community. For every purchase made, the company donates a mask to someone in need.

The mask, usually $34.95, is currently on sale for $29.95, as well. Reusable, washable, comfortable, filter-ready, and giving to the community… I call that a win win.

https://halolife.io/

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