For women who like the finer things in life… the new Balmain Hair Couture Fall/Winter 2022 Limited Edition Collection is a chic no brainer. A luxe vegan leather emerald-green travel pouch – that also comes in black – contains 3 solid hair care and styling products, a scented candle, and they’re featuring luxe headbands and 18K gold plated hair jewelry. I mean, it’s travel hair heaven. Easy breezy and the ideal hair products for at home or when you want that long weekend away (or two weeks off). Oh how I love efficient style.
They’re sold out on the Balmain website, but you can get them at Saks below. The perfect gift for you, me, your girlfriend, your wife, your sisters, your momma, your grandmomma, and your favorite auntie.
As we near summer, the warmer temps often lead to shedding hair. I thought it just might be my (ahem) 40s, but turns out, we lose more hair when it’s hot… obviously. Luckily, PURA D’OR, pretty much the gold standard in haircare, offers their Original Gold Label Anti-Thinning Biotin Shampoo to handle these haircare woes. With over 13,000 5-Star reviews on Amazon, it truly is like liquid gold.
I’ll be honest. I don’t know if any hair thickening shampoo and conditioners work, but I do know that this duo smells amazing and I’m obsessed. Let’s be real, hair thinning is a common concern according to the American Hair Loss Association with 40% of women experiencing some form of loss and 85% of men showing significant thinning by the age of 50. Several underlying causes can create this condition, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a viable solution available to help repair and reduce damage to restore a fuller head of hair. So, I’m taking the time to tend to my tresses with PURA D’OR’s Original Gold Label Anti-Thinning Biotin Shampoo (SRP: $28.50 and $32 for the Shampoo & Conditioner Set). The strengthening formula is clinically tested to stimulate scalp wellness with a nourishing blend of 17 active key ingredients to hydrate dry hair and natural preservatives to promote fuller, thicker locks encouraging regrowth with hydrating certified organic components made to enhance healthiness.
Yes. Yes. Yes. A few steps from the Ferry Building and Embarcadero, a few streets (or short ride) to North Beach, a Marriott Bonvoy point qualifying property… we give this property a resounding yes.
Le Meridien San Francisco is a steal for any last minute SF vacation or the staycation feels. At around $200-$300/night (depending on the lucky lower rate you get), you’ll be smack dab in the city (but far enough from the Tenderloin sketchiness). With modern, bright, and wonderfully spacious rooms (bigger than my old midtown NYC apartment!), there’s a lovely front door staff and cocktail bar downstairs (Bar 333). Although there’s no longer valet, there’s parking for $35 overnight across the street in the garage beneath the Shops at the Embarcadero which works just fine. The room service menu is limited, but okay. One note: there’s no kid’s menu and not much for dessert so we had to Door Dash as my 8 year son couldn’t find a single thing he wanted to eat. What can I say? He’s used to having warm chocolate chip cookies sent up. The Dream Inn in Santa Cruz, California did a nice job spoiling him with their warm chocolate chip cookies. For moms like me, who want to get the little ones something special on a holiday, warm chocolate chip cookies with milk seems like a staple.
Pros: They have Bravo (hotels need to get with the program and get their Bravo TV!), there’s a decent bar downstairs where you can get a nice G&T (or two), the spaciousness of the rooms, and it’s so centrally located you can’t go wrong. Each of the 360 rooms have floor to ceiling windows and you’ll marvel at the remarkable skyline and unparalleled views of the San Francisco Bay. Win win.
Cons: Room service menu needs an option for kids and families traveling with them
Where to begin? Let’s start with the awe inspiring drive to the Carmel Valley from our hotel in Carmel-by-the-Sea. One of my favorite things to do in life is to take the top down on my 911 Carrera Cab to drive the 16 minutes from the ocean to the valley. Long stretches of a relaxing winding road, fresh air that moves it’s way through the low languid mountains, and the warmth of the valley embracing my shoulders as we leave the misty cliffs of Carmel to meet the vineyard and spa retreat that is the Carmel Valley.
During a weekend in Carmel, my partner-in-crime and I decided to book massages as the Bernardus Lodge and Spa along with an All Day Pass to soak up some pool or hot tub time, grab a light lunch, and relax. Unfortunately, we arrived a little too late so only had time for lunch by the pool before our spa appointments were to begin at 3pm (spa closes at 5pm). Alas, we headed to the pool.
Thankfully, it wasn’t crowded. A decent amount of people around gave it some liveliness with couples and a few families. We sat in the full warmth of the sunlight and the spa attendant told us that she would send someone out to take our order. After waiting 20 minutes, we realized that they may have forgotten about us. They had. Instead, they told us to place our orders via a phone by the side of the pool. A little odd that they wouldn’t offer to make the call for us after forgetting about us, but mistakes happen. We dialed in an order for two glasses of New World Sauvignon Blanc and two salads, the Roasted Beet Salad with chicken and a Caesar Salad with chicken.
The wine was cold and the salads substantial, but the chicken, oh the chicken! It was a quarter of a chicken grilled with the skin on, a massive thigh and attached drumstick. Not exactly easy to eat in the hot sun nor as tasty as it may have looked on a salad. We both wished they had served the salad with thin slices of grilled chicken breast. The brunch menu promoted “Where Old World Craft Meets New World Creativity,” but it lacked inspiration or any creativity – Caesar Salad, Burger, Eggs Benedict, Fried Chicken Sandwich, Crab Cake, a few pizza choices, and Huevos Rancheros. Had the chef brought in more thoughtful, interesting seasonal touches like grapefruit, fennel, strawberry, lemon, or kohlrabi and a bit of flair, it has potential based on the beauty and expanse of the property alone, but it wasn’t the sort of menu where you had a hard time deciding what to get because they’re weren’t any stand out choices. It was, for lack of a better word, basic.
Onto the spa where the environment was an almost perfect Pottery Barn beige sense of calm. We were kindly welcomed and the spa attendant pointed out candied ginger to aid with digestion, assorted teas, fruit-infused water, and salted nuts as she ushered us inside. When we asked about our lockers and a robe, we were told that daytime spa guests didn’t receive them. That was when, after the large cavegirl leg of chicken on our salads and the spa forgetting to call the server, I realized that Bernardus, as stunning as the property may be nestled in the cozy rustic chic of Carmel Valley, isn’t quite at the level of service nor luxury that you would find at a Ritz Carlton, St. Regis, or Four Seasons.
We headed to the spa for the treatment, took a quick 10 minute dip in the deliciously heated small pool, and were then called to our appointments. The treatment did not disappoint. We had the Bernardus Essential Massage for 50 minutes ($185, approximately $250 with tip; it’s included). My therapist was excellent and the massage was just the perfect amount of Swedish relaxation with a bit of pressure. When we went to pay, the spa director told us – Strike 3 of the experience – that she noticed we had enjoyed the spa pool (this was a mere 10 minutes prior to the massages) and, although trying to be nice, both my friend and I felt slightly scolded when she said, “It’s okay this time, but next time, if you booked a spa appointment for the day, daytime spa guests aren’t permitted to use the facilities.” Not your standard 15 minutes prior nor following the massage that is custom at luxury properties? Que raro! After our confused looks, no doubt because my friend and I, in all of our jaunts to 4 and 5 star properties, had never heard of such a ridiculous rule before, the spa director mentioned something about Covid. It didn’t make much sense as the mask mandate was ending and capacity was minimal. There was no one in the spa pool and we only saw two others in the spa throughout the entire time we were there. It seemed as if it was one of those poorly drafted “rules” that properties implemented to cut corners during Covid to charge the same for less.
Net net: we had a lovely time because the environment was well kept and beautiful, but we’re not sure we would come back for a meal or a massage. Perhaps if I brought my kids for a mini-vacation as the pool was nice. Apparently, the spa facilities are complimentary for hotel guests. Note to Bernardus Lodge & Spa: you have all the makings of greatness, so leverage seasonal California ingredients and bring thoughtfulness to your menu. Don’t disregard the value of loyal Bay Area locals with stingy spa rules that feel a few stars less than what you’re aiming for.
Rating: 8-/10 for the massage and nice spa amenities (points deducted for the chunk of chicken leg and odd very un-luxe spa limitations for day spa guests)
Covid made us all appreciate the great outdoors, didn’t it? If we have to look at the bright side, and if there was any more reason to improve the great outdoors, mountain cabins, and the second home experience, it was the land of RVs and boats to the rescue!
We love this new RV membership idea. Membership to Harvest Hosts, the country’s leading membership club for RVers. Perfect as a gift for travelers and experience seekers, Harvest Hosts offers members unique overnight stays at over 2,750+ locations all over North America – including farms, wineries, breweries, distilleries, golf courses, museums and other scenic small businesses.
Classic plans are currently $99/year, while plans including golf courses are priced at $139/year. For more info on pricing please the website herebut they will be 20% off throughout the holiday season with HOLIDAY20 (12.6 – 12.31).
Throughout the pandemic, RV and road travel has reached unprecedented industry growth – with RV wholesale shipments projected to reach an all-time high for 2021. This past summer, RV campsites booked up months in advance, giving Harvest Hosts members an overnight alternative to crowded campsites. Watch this emerging space!
Our favorite time of the year is around the corner! Also known as snow crab, champagne, and slope season! So, when this news hit our inbox we thought, ‘what better way to inspire others than to share these winter wonderland vibes? Sometimes we like to report on a town with a roundup, other times, we like to share property specific news because we’re a bunch of hotel hounds.
Enter: The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. A luxe winter wonderland nestled mid-mountain at Northstar California Resort, they’re also presenting a veritable winter world of activities like après ski, gourmet dining, a Claus family meet and greet, Menorah Lighting ceremony, and traditional Christmas dinners.
As the only ski-in/ski-out destination in Lake Tahoe, the resort is also perfect for families because you can indulge with world-class ski valet services (yes, please!), award-winning dining and culinary offerings (let the diet start on Monday), and, of course, some of the finest hospitality in the world. Insider secret: they’re trained to always say hello to you in the hallways. It’s a small detail that pays off with kindness. The hotel will also host Holiday Days of Magic, special extravaganzas elevating the holiday vibes further. We just love the whole seasonal thing!
In addition to deluxe guestrooms and suites, the resort’s two and three-bedroom Luxury Residences are available to book for the ultimate home-away-from-home winter getaway.
Check out this year’s winter and holiday amenities and events below:
RESORT & DINING EXPERIENCES
Northstar California Resort
Guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe have privileged access to Northstar California Resort for all their on-mountain plans with its ski-in/ski-out access and ski valet services. This year, Northstar will not require advanced reservations for on-mountain activities, but face masks are required for all indoor activities. Additionally, proof of vaccination and advanced reservations are required for indoor dining.
A social and entertaining activity to enjoy after a day on the slopes, après ski in The Backyard is a guest favorite at The Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe. This year, beginning November 18 and running throughout the ski season, the hotel will host a Whiskey & Waffles Cabin where guests can savor premium, select whiskeys from around the world paired with warm, fresh waffles loaded with gourmet toppings. OMG!! For an even more elevated après ski experience, weekend guests can also check out the Champagne & Caviar Bar, serving a selection of champagne complemented with an exceptional collection of caviar (we are ALL about caviar these days with interesting flavors from Uruguay and California).
The spa at The Ritz Carlton, Lake Tahoe will also be offering seasonal treatments like the Chocolate Decadence Facial.
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers a great selection of exceptional dining spots on site, from the casual Café Blue and The Backyard Bar & BBQ to The Living Room and the resort’s upscale restaurant, Manzanita.
The Manzanita menu serves up delicious California mountain cuisine like rustic “Woodlands” entrees such as branzino with Caponata, fennel and cucumber chimichurri, pork ossobuco, venison accompanied with sweet potato, blackberry demi and roasted heirloom carrots, braised lamb, and more.
With ski-in/ski-out access, The Backyard Bar & BBQ serves up Texas-style BBQ from Thursday through Sundays. Beef brisket, pulled pork and chicken, all smoked in-house with the resort’s onsite smoker and served with an array of traditional sides and house-made sauces. Yeehaw!
The Living Room, for when feeling like you’re at a posh hotel in the mountains and deserve fun posh fare. It will feature elevated, shareable dishes including cheese and chocolate fondue and creative seafood towers from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can also sip delicious cocktails here.
Another fun idea they’ve added to the “make it special and easy” vibe: the little ones in the family can enjoy a daily dinner buffet curated just for them with their favorite foods in mind. Priced at $35 per child, the rotating kids’ menu will consist of one cold dish option, choice of two kids’ favorite meals, and two entrée selections.
If that’s not cool enough, located at the Fireside Terrace, the hotel will be featuring an outdoor airstream bar – open daily – where guests can stop by to enjoy a warm bowl of soup, while sipping on their favorite winter-inspired cocktail.
HOLIDAY DAYS OF MAGIC – December 18 – January 2
Full Holiday Days of Magic Schedule
Manzanita & The Ballroom | November 25
Advance reservations required
A pre-fixed five-course festive meal will be offered at Manzanita for resort guests only. Menu items include roasted Brussel sprouts, heirloom roasted carrots, roasted turkey, porcini and coffee rubbed-roasted prime rib, and more. The five-course menu is priced at $180 per person.
A holiday buffet with chef-action stations, harvested vegetable dishes, artisan pastries and kids’ selections will be offered in the resort’s ballroom. Priced at $180 per guest adult; $50 per child the buffet option will be served from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Menorah Lighting Ceremony
The Living Room | December 5 at Sundown
Manzanita & The Ballroom | December 25
Advance reservations required
Manzanita will be presenting a five-course Christmas menu. Dishes include baby beet salad, seafood duo – featuring scallops and sea bass, Piedmontese filet and more. Priced at $180 per person, guests can book dinner reservations from 4:00 – 9:30 p.m. Kids’ menu option available.
The holiday buffet will also be offered at Christmas and feature harvested vegetable dishes, artisan pastries and kids’ selections offered in the resort’s ballroom. Priced at $180 / per guest adult; $50 per child the buffet option will be served from 12:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
New Year’s Eve Dinner
Manzanita | December 31 | 4:00 – 9:30 p.m.
$210 per person (bubbles included) | Advance reservations required
Pre-fixed, five-course meal in Manzanita. Kids menu option available.
New Year’s Day Brunch
Manzanita | January 1, 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
$225 per person | Advance reservationsrequired
Guests can start the new year off right and savor a special recovery brunch menu featuring unlimited bottomless drink selection.
Additionally, the resort will play host to special appearances from Mr. and Mrs. Claus, daily live music, and gingerbread house-making activities for families. The resort will also display a giant replica of the resort made entirely of gingerbread in the lobby, crafted by the resort’s talented pastry team.
This little luxury gem was such a lucky find that I had to write it up. Thanks to my buddy, Jessica, who heard about this spot from friends, it’s like staying at your wealthy friend’s private home along the Napa River, complete with a fridge stocked with sparkling (or flat) water and sodas just for you. Something between a luxury B&B and a spa, it’s right on the water, feels like a bucolic dream, and worth every penny with their pristine fluffy towels and chic modern amenities.
For a quick jaunt outside the city during Bottlerock, this property was quiet, luxurious perfection. I only wish I had more time to relax in front of the Napa River and enjoy the view with a good book in hand. Breakfast is included and had all the usual favorites for American – or European – palates. Scrambled eggs or chicken sausage, you got it. Oatmeal, croissants, or pastries, they have that too. Basically, they have everything you need if you’re looking for a B&B vibe that’s high-end and private. I’ll definitely be heading back on my next sojourn. They even have a complimentary wine tasting in the afternoon. Win win!
This just in so I had to share. Redken is offering a buy more save more deal for Ulta shoppers that you won’t want to miss. The current 2 for $30 sale offers the purchase of a Redken shampoo and conditioner from their wide range of lines, for only $30 total. To give you an idea, one bottle of Frizz Dismiss Sulfate Free Shampoo (10oz) is $23. Redken specializes in shampoos and conditioners that work for every hair type, so there’s something for everyone.
Head to your local Ulta or shop on Ulta.com before this Redken sale ends on 10/23. Your hair and wallet will thank you!
When an eco-forward CBD beauty company reached out about their products, how could I say no? Long known to help muscle stress and aid in relaxation, CBD is the latest green goddess to appear in beauty.
They sent me a selection of three different lip balm from Natural to Lavender Orange and Lavender Mint. I started with the Lavender Orange and I immediately felt the nice hint of orange in a lightly emollient stick balm tinted with essential oils and a very subtle green hint of hemp and lavender.
My favorite, however, was the cooling tingle of peppermint essential oil in the Lavender Mint. All featured 30 mg of broad spectrum CBD paired with certified organic hemp oil, Fair Trade Certified™ cocoa butter and coconut oil for an all-around lip moisturizing experience. Their hemp-derived, broad-spectrum CBD extract is sustainably grown through regenerative agriculture practices and CO2 extracted in Oregon by Klersun. It is thoroughly tested by 3rd party labs to qualify concentration levels. Products contain 0.0% THC. Oh well 😉
They also boast the finest cold-pressed Cannabis Sativa seed oil to deliver a natural balance of essential fatty acids (EFAs) and amino acids which are great for skin care applications.
Do you enjoy saunas and art? Who doesn’t? Take my favorite things: self-care, water, massage, and the inspiration found in immersive art, and Japan has just delivered one kickass experience to uplift us after the post-Covid blues! Pair an illuminating museum experience with a unique experience staying at some of Tokyo’s finest hotels like the Hotel New Otani Tokyo, complete with a waterfall! It has 1,479 rooms in a variety of types with fantastic views.
The art collective teamLab has created an exhibition in Roppongi, the likes of which the world has never been seen before. This new exhibition gives you a nuanced experience as you view artwork in saunas. You’ll be able to enjoy several works, including a new group of pieces based on teamLab’s latest project “Supernature Phenomenon.” The exhibition runs until August 31. Tokyo is always the best place to enjoy the latest creations of teamLab.
Let’s face it. Times have been extreme. So what better way to learn new skills and embrace new experiences than to focus on a well-tuned mind and body? I sure as hell could use it too! Among other benefits, meeting a new challenge head-on, whether physical, mental or both, fuels creativity, helps slow cognitive decline, and builds confidence. Balance that new adventure with a spa retreat and you’ve got the makings of an extreme wellness getaway. Here are a few great travel ideas that combine skills, thrills, and (spa) chills for those looking for something new and ambitious in 2021.
Triathlon Training in the Sonoran Desert. Train with an Olympian instructor by day, unwind at one of the nation’s premier resort spas by night. Who’s in? Plus, I’m an AZ local and can attest to the fact that it’s an incredible place to get active and get relaxin. At Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, pushing one’s physical limits comes with world-class rewards. Sanctuary’s three-night Triathlon Training package includes three days of training with the resort’s team of experts. On the first day, Olympic gold medalist Misty Hyman shares the best swimming strategies for endurance and speed in Sanctuary’s 25-yard outdoor lap pool. Day two is a guided desert bike ride, and day three a tandem run with a fitness instructor. A power breakfast each morning fuels the day’s workout, while each evening brings a 60-minute spa treatment to restore muscles and joints impacted during training.
Shark Diving at Singer Island. With the world’s third largest barrier reef practically at its doorstep, Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa is the perfect base for a thrilling shark-diving adventure. Cage and free shark dives, offered through numerous local dive operators, let adrenaline junkies of all skill levels share the water with predators ranging from Florida’s abundant sandbar and lemon sharks to massive tiger sharks. After, guests can de-stress at the all-suite resort’s SiSpa, named one of the top 10 resort spas in the country by Condé Nast Traveler readers. A Capture the Moment Package, complete with a GoPro Waterproof Action Camera (Model Hero4) also let’s you document all the action, and includes daily beach chair and umbrella rental for stays of two or more nights. Luxe Recess also has this to say, “From the moment plush turtles greet you in your family suite to when you meet the magnificent creatures at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center down the road, a vacation at the Marriott Singer Island is all about slowing down to a turtle’s pace while connecting with the authentic richness of the Palm Beaches: its seashore.”The Whiteface Lodge – Lake Placid, NY
Bikes, Biathlons and Bobsledding in the Adirondacks. Seek peak wellness high in the Adirondack Mountains at Lake Placid’s Whiteface Lodge, an all-suite resort just a short drive from the Olympic Village in this two-time Winter Games host city. Among the Olympian-worthy local activities is a brand-new Bike & Biathlon experience, which debuted June 29 and combines an hour-long mountain bike lesson with professional instruction on the Olympic Biathlon Range, building skills and confidence for participants of all ages (biathlon rifles for those 13 and up; paintball for those 12 and under). In the winter, the action shifts to the Olympic bobsled run, where thrill-seekers can hurtle down the track with a professional driver and brakeman in the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience. Just don’t forget to relax and recharge at the award-winning Spa at Whiteface Lodge with an Alpine Retreat treatment. It includes a hot hydrotherapy soak and slow massage, both with Naturopathica Ginger Oil to melt away a day of adventure, followed by a warm oil scalp massage. I live for warm oil scalp massages. JUST SO YOU KNOW.
Fly a Helicopter over the Hudson. High-flying adventurers can test their mettle at the controls of a Robinson R44 Raven II with Wings Air Helicopters’ 30- or 60-minute Discovery Flight at Westchester County Airport, just a short drive or train ride from New York City. Now, I’m afraid of heights so, as one like me is prone to doing, I tend to challenge my fears head on. I’m not saying it works, but it can certainly be thrilling to climb a mountain or fly in a copter! The lesson begins with a ground briefing before taking to the sky with a professional flight instructor who, once airborne, will hand over the controls. Students can also bring up to two friends to ride along for an additional fee. Roundtrip hotel transfers between Manhattan and Westchester can also be arranged. Two top choices for a post-flight spa getaway are The Ritz-Carlton New York, Westchester (White Plains), home to Synergy Spa, Westchester County’s largest destination spa, and Tarrytown’s landmark 19th century castle (!!) turned luxury Castle Hotel & Spa, with its sweet riverside digs, French cuisine, and Sankara 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
ARRIVE ANCHORAGE, ALASKA
ANCHORAGE | CELEBRATING THE IDITAROD
WINTERLAKE LODGE | SCENIC WILDERNESS FLIGHT
WINTERLAKE LODGE | IDITAROD MUSHERS’ ARRIVE
WINTERLAKE LODGE | DOGSLEDDING & THE GREAT OUTDOORS
ANCHORAGE | EXPERIENCING INDIGENOUS CULTURE
INCLUDED WITH EVERY LUXURY TAILOR MADE JOURNEY
One-of-a-kind Itinerary Designed for You
Driver-guide and vehicle
Exclusive Insider-Access Opportunities and Inspiring Sightseeing
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.
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.
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.
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?’)
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.
After our tour of the town’s Mission and history, we were thirsty. Next up: wine atPassaggioWines 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.
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 theChouriço 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 theBacalhau 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).
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.