The Golden Gate Bridge is 75

May 26th, 2012

One of the most beautiful sights in San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. Opened in 1937 during the great depression, it has become a symbol of optimism and a standard for functional beauty that continues today. This weekend marks the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary, with celebrations planned throughout the weekend.

The Hotel Palomar in San Francisco is honoring the event with its Golden Gate Suite, which includes Orange Vermillion accents, bridge-themed pieces by local artists and furniture made from reclaimed steel from the bridge itself.

Happy Birthday GGB!

Via: Hotel Palomar  |  Golden Gate Anniversary

The Huntington Hotel (Pasadena, CA)

March 5th, 2012

Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel

The Langham Huntington Hotel is one of the great historic hotels in the United States. Built in 1907 by Henry Huntington, the Huntington has been a landmark hotel since it opened over 100 years ago. Located on 23 acres of manicured gardens, the hotel has an Olympic-size swimming pool, a full service spa with 13 treatment rooms as well as a selection of Traditional Chinese Medicine services.

The hotel’s Fitness Center offers yoga, pilates, body sculpting and aerobics classes on most days. During our stay, we got up early and attended a yoga and pilates class. A sleepy Aidan Quinn joined us for the pilates class and we all pretended we didn’t recognize him.

Old Town Pasadena is only five minutes away and is a fun place to explore and appreciate the turn of the century architecture. Pasadena’s historic district has more than 600 buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The best way to explore the district is by foot. Take one of the self-guided walking tours to see Craftsman bungalows and a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home. Old Town is also a great place to shop with over 130 boutiques, shops, galleries and bistros.

SPRING SPECIAL: Book today, March 5, 2012 on their website using promo code SPRING and get 30% off your hotel stay.

The Huntington Library & Gardens were also created by Henry Huntington. The botanical gardens are spectacular and cover 120 acres with 14,000 different species of plants. If you’ve seen The Wedding Planner or Memoirs of a Geisha you’ll recognize places on the estate where scenes were filmed.

Langham Huntington Hotel  |  Pasadena  |  Huntington Library & Gardens

Season of Sharing

December 31st, 2011

I grew up in a large family where sharing was commonplace. Sharing my bedroom with my younger sister, sharing the bathroom with all my sisters, sharing clothes and sharing our VW bug.

With people looking for creative ways to stretch their resources, sharing has come back in style. For travelers this offers some great options for staying in places with more personality and more space than traditional hotel lodging. Some of the top services for vacation home sharing are: VRBO, HomeAway, FlipKey by TripAdvisor and AirBnB.

I used VRBO recently and stayed in a nice 2 bedroom/2 bath condo in Scottsdale for $100/night and had a great experience. Booking through an individual home owner requires a little more coordination than a hotel, but in return you’ll get much better accommodations for the same or lower price of a hotel.

Going to Baja Mexico for some sun? Book this Mexican villa near the beach with a rooftop deck for ~$100 a night. Wonder what it would be like to live on a vintage tug boat? Stay overnight on this 100 year old boat in Sausalito for $150/night.

Booking Tips

Before booking it’s a good idea to check what the deposit, cleaning fee (if any) and taxes will add beyond the basic nightly rate. Read the reviews from previous guests, call the owner with questions, and check to see how walkable the location is. When making payments, use your credit card or paypal on a secure site to protect your transaction.

Here’s to sharing!

Europe Bans Airport X-Ray Scanners

November 21st, 2011

Europe’s decision last week to ban X-Ray scanners from their airports due to “health and safety” reasons, has caused many to speculate whether the X-Ray full body scanners should be discontinued in the U.S. as well.

Read today’s article in Time:
Europe bans airport X-Ray scanners. Should the U.S. follow suit?

If you’re flying this week, you may want to build in lots of extra time for security. Not only is it the busiest time of year to travel — its also likely many travelers like me, will opt for a pat down instead of a full body scan using an X-Ray machine.

Ghoul’s Night Out

October 31st, 2011

For a perfect Ghoul’s night out, check-out these zombie make-up tips to look your scariest before dragging yourself over to a zombie prom or a few of your favorite haunts. Sip a pina ghoualda or black lagoon cocktail before joining the other zombies on the dance floor to do your rendition of Thriller or the monster mash. Happy Halloween!

Candy Corn Cocktail by Alex Straus of the Hotel Shangri-La

Candy Corn cocktail by Alex Straus of the Hotel Shangri-La

Spa Week (Oct. 10 – 16)

September 16th, 2011

What to try out a spa, but don’t want to spend too much? Spa Week is your chance to try out spa services for $50 — half of what some facials, massages and body treatments normally cost. The Fall 2011 Spa Week runs from October 10 – 16. For a full list of participating day and resort spas in your area go to

Appointments tend to fill up fast during Spa week, so book now if you’re interested!

Via: Spa Week

Girls Getaways: just what the doctor ordered!

July 27th, 2011

Most of us have heard of John Gray and his book called Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. A few days ago I had the chance to hear Dr. Gray speak in person. It’s no wonder he’s been on every major talk show – he had all of us entertained and laughing with anecdotes while still giving us useful information.

One of the things he talked about that’s covered in his new book, Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice, is recent health research about the connection between hormones and relationships for both men and women. During his talk, he mentioned that a common way for men to rebalance their hormone level after a busy day is to relax on the couch and watch TV (yes, there is a reason they do this!).

He also mentioned that women have a very different way of rebalancing their hormone level to reduce stress. I was leafing through my freshly autographed copy of John Gray’s book and ran across a list of 100 ways for women to reduce stress and rebalance our hormone level and — you guessed it — a girls getaway is one of the items on his list. Here’s a few more of my favorites:

  1. vacationing with girl friends at a spa
  2. taking a cooking class
  3. attend live theater or concerts
  4. Getting a sun tan
  5. Venus night out (taking time with a support group of women only)
  6. enjoying wine tasting with friends
  7. spending time at the beach, a river or a lake
  8. getting regular massages
  9. taking time to smell the roses and other fragrant flowers in the garden

We knew intuitively that girlfriend getaways and girl time made us feel better and reduced stress, and by reading this book we now understand why.

Via: John Gray

Summer camping

June 25th, 2011

Summer is officially here and for many of us, it’s a time to sleep under the stars and spend more time enjoying the outdoors. Tents come to mind immediately (along with mosquito repellent) for camp lodging, but there are other interesting options available such as yurts, teepees and even vintage trailers.

If your idea of camping is having a feather bed, resort amenities and a camping butler who can build the campfire and serve as story teller, then head over to Montana where Paws Up Ranch defines luxury camping. Here’s one of my earlier posts that describes what they have to offer.

For those of us with a smaller camping budget, state parks have some great options and offer platform tents, cabins and yurts for about $55/night.

Washington State Park’s collection of cabins & platform tents

Of course if you’re into cool retro lodging, try staying in a vintage trailer.

Bisbee, Arizona is where you’ll find the Shady Dell, whose trailer accommodations offer leopard carpet, martini glasses and a breakfast booth. There’s even Dot’s Diner on site where you can enjoy 50’s style hamburgers and shakes.

El Cosmico, which is located in Marfa, Texas was created by Liz Lambert, designer of Austin’s well-known Hotel San Jose. El Cosmico offers the latest lodging concept with a unique collection of vintage trailers, yurts and teepees that you can book by the night. Guests can use the outdoor kitchen, dining area and relax in the elm grove of hammocks.

No matter what summer lodging option you choose for your next camping excursion, don’t forgot the s’mores!