Tag Archives: hotels

Experiencing the Galapagos in style

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Out of all the natural environments on Earth, none quite has the fame that the Galapagos Islands possesses. Back in the 19th century, a naturalist by the name of Charles Darwin visited these isles as part of a global journey aboard the HMS Beagle, and it was here he witnessed the vastly different creatures which led to him positing his now famous theories of natural selection and evolution.

Regardless of your opinion of Mr. Darwin, nobody can deny the beauty of its geography and its flora and fauna, and it is this fact that brings countless travelers to the shores of the Galapagos every year. Located more than 1,000 kilometres from the South American mainland, the shocking differences in animal and plant life here will fascinate you at every turn, making your decision to come here well worth the money you will spend on a trip here.

Here’s how you can experience the Galapagos in style…

A room with a grand view

While many visitors here are content to slum it in budget hotels and hostels, you have no desire to rough it on a tropical island without glorious A/C, a plush mattress that feels like a cloud, and a property that feels like an immaculately kept castle.

The Royal Palm Hotel definitely satisfies all of the following criteria, as well as many others. Your home away from home for your week in the Galapagos is located up in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, and with a fine dining restaurant, a refined bar, and a relaxing pool/jacuzzi on site, you won’t ever want to leave.

Observe one of the world’s most fascinating habitats

One of the absolute must-do activities that one should undertake while on holidays in the Galapagos is a tour through some of the most unique natural habitats found in this island chain. It is recommended that you should take a tour on a smaller yacht than on the bigger ships, as not only is the experience far more intimate, they are much more environmentally friendly and are easier to dock at some of the tighter coves in the national park (whereas the big boats cannot).

On these tours, you will see rare birds, lizards and tortoises enjoying life in their unique habitat, one that cannot be found elsewhere on Earth.

Savour the island’s best cuisine

While you could have dinner at your resort every night, on some nights you will want to have a night out on the town instead. On Santa Cruz, that town is Puerto Ayora, and it is here you can find places like Angermeyer Point Restaurant if you wish to sample the bounty of the sea, La Garrapata if you wish to sample a taste of Ecuadorian cuisine, and if you wish to choose from the cuisine of the world, Il Giardino is highly regarded by both tourists and locals alike!

Experiencing San Diego In Style

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California has long been a favored destination by many travelers craving the abundant Californian sun, its ever-present surf creating a pleasant din in the background, and its many soul rejuvenating vistas. Of all the cities in the state, San Diego best exemplifies all three of these qualities, and as a result of this, its stock has been rising among travelers.

The time for you to experience this stylish city has arrived, as it offers a wide variety of inspired activities for the culturally attuned. In the following article, we have picked out what we feel are the best aspects of San Diego that you should experience if it is a peak experience that you seek.

It may be not a be all, end all list of things to do here, but it will ensure that your time here will be filled with highlights.

DO: Balboa Park

If your time here is restricted to a quick weekend or business trip, do take the time to experience Balboa Park, if only for a few hours. It is San Diego’s most celebrated greenspace, as it is beset with many well-tended gardens and shady palms, but there is so much more to this place than that. It is also home to art galleries, the San Diego Zoo, and structures like Casa de Balboa that date back to the founding of this relatively young city.

EAT: Addison

Critically acclaimed as one of the best restaurants in San Diego, this fine dining establishment elevates French cuisine to a place where you be begging for extra courses, despite their six to eight plate offerings. Traditional continental offerings such as Risotto Balls meet fusion dishes like Kobe Beef Short Ribs to create an evening that your tastebuds won’t soon forget!

STAY: Hotel del Coronado

Your stay in San Diego won’t be complete unless you at least visit the Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian style beach resort that has been welcoming guests for well over one hundred years. Its massive wooden frame has harbored presidents, royalty and the top flight ranks of the wealthy over the years, and continues to do so to this day.

Even if you aren’t willing to shell out the $611 it takes to stay in its most basic rooms, a stroll through its gorgeous lobby with its massive chandelier and a long walk along its inspired waterfront will make you feel like you’ve been magically transported back to the gilded ages when this hotel was in its prime.

The Hippest Hotels In Manhattan

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Containing nationalities from just about every significant country on Earth, New York City is often considered to be the crossroads of the world. It seems like every nook and cranny of this intensely urbane metropolis has something going on, but the locus of all attention seems to be undeniably focused on the island of Manhattan.

Resembling a massive forest of concrete, steel and glass, this heavily populated and capitalized borough where where locals and visitors come to see and be seen, and while many commute in from other corners of NYC or the suburbs, it is the desire of many of stay in the heart of action.

Not content to cut corners to sleep in a roach hotel for a price that would get you a 3 and a half star room back home, you’re ready to step to the plate financially to ensure that your New York city break is one that is done in style, as a center of this caliber deserves nothing less.

In that spirit, the following three hotels are thought of by many as the hippest places to stay in the heart of the Big Apple.

We’ll start by virtually checking into the…

1) Gansevoort Park Avenue

This lively spot is situated within one of New York’s most famed luxury shopping districts. When you’re aren’t busy trolling Prada or Louis Vuitton for the latest styles, this boutique pad offers avant garde Italian fare at its house restaurant, Ristorante Asellina, cutting edge artwork in all of the rooms, and the piece de resistance, a rooftop pool and bar that will keep you celebrating well into the sultry summer evenings that New York is famous for.

2) Ace Hotel

Situated on Manhattan’s West Side, Ace Hotel has many outstanding features that will make it tough to leave after your New York vacation has concluded. The spacious and uniquely designed lobby makes for an inspired place to get caught up on e-mails or work, or to finish off the latest chapter in the book you haven’t been able to put down lately.

Whether you wish to grab a quick snack or sit down for a luxurious meal, Ace has you covered, as there are no less than four spots to chow down (coffee, sub, and seafood spots await you in the lobby area, and the well-appointed Breslin Restaurant has a variety of dining experiences on its menu that are just awaiting your indulgences!)

3) The Marcel at Gramercy

If you’re looking for a place with loud and bold colours/designs, then get on over to the East Side, where The Marcel at Gramercy doesn’t do subtlety when it comes to interior décor. From the hotel bar that does its best impersonation of a European cellar pub, to the rooms with their love me or leave me zebra print pillowcases, reinforced by a banana yellow vinyl headboard, the look of this boutique spot is almost worth the price you pay all by itself. The clincher is the rooftop terrace, as it grants an unparalleled view of Midtown after dark.

Coolin’ Off in the Joule Pool (Dallas, TX)

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Last July, Marc gifted me with a trip to Dallas, Texas for my birthday.

We stayed at the Joule, located in the heart of Dallas. Formerly the Dallas National Bank Building, the building was constructed in 1927 and it’s one of the last remaining examples of gothic revival high-rise buildings in the city. Its location is ideal since it’s within walking distance of restaurants and nightlife.

The Joule is contemporary and perfect for any traveler who likes modern and chic style. Our room was small and boxy with next to no view at all. The bathroom was super tiny, but we absolutely loved the glass shower and sleek sink. I instantly ranked our bed a 10. The comforter was plush, the pillows met my high standards, and the linens were soft and fresh. We also enjoyed using the Bose Wave iPod dock that was conveniently placed on our nightstand.

The Joule immediately became a fine masterpiece once I saw the 10th floor pool. It extends over the edge of the building and features a glass wall that provides an excellent view of the street below. The pool area features a full bar and lounge chairs wrap around the pool. It was impossible to get a chair, but we were okay with that given the 107-degree temperature that day. We were quite content standing in the pool beneath the refreshing misters. Ladies: forget about your hair looking perfect.

Once we left the pool to go out for the night, we were impressed with the complimentary Cadillac Escalade that took us to my brother’s place in Dallas. The driver was fantastic and provided us with historical facts on the city, as well as information on where we should go out. He seemed like a true expert on the area, not just a driver. Kudos to him.

That night, we all headed over to West Village, which is located in the heart of affluent uptown. It’s an evolving dining and shopping district, an ideal location for urban dwellers. We ate at Mi Cocina and it was delicious! When you dine there, make sure you go on an empty stomach because the portions are huge. After dinner, we made a quick stop at Lemon Bar (also located in West Village) since we noticed they had a hookah patio. The hookah was okay, pretty much what we have come to expect of hookah bars. Finally, we journeyed back to the Joule to celebrate my birthday at PM Nightlife Lounge. Marc loved it! I loved it, too, because my brother and Marc kept taking turns buying me drinks!

A stay at the Joule wouldn’t be complete without dining at Charlie Palmer. We ate there for dinner one night. Regrettably, since the trip was over a year ago, I don’t recall what I ordered. I just remember that it was remarkable. In fact, I’m pretty sure I refused to let Marc have a bite (I don’t share good food).

All right, time for me to brag about a celebrity sighting when we were at the Galleria. A group of us were in Bebe shopping so I could find something fun to wear out in Dallas. Since my brother obviously wasn’t desperately trying to find an outfit in Bebe, he found a star instead. Quick hint: these boots are made for walking

YES! JESSICA SIMPSON! The jerk (my brother I love so dearly) didn’t tell me because I’d “overreact.” Luckily for me, he told Marc and, being the sweet man he is, came over to me and whispered the secret in my ear. I looked up and literally lost my breath. After a minute or so of constant staring, Marc shook me and said, “You can’t keep staring!” Oh yes, yes, I can. I didn’t approach her and I didn’t stalk her for the rest of the day, but I did watch her the entire time she shopped in Bebe!  I utterly enjoyed seeing her in person. Oh, and for the record, this was at the time she was being criticized by all the tabloids for being “fat”… Girl was not fat at all. She was likely a size 2.

Not a bad birthday present. I still owe Marc for this one!

~ Lyndsi

 

Infamous Red Penguins @ 21c Museum Hotel

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Located in Louisville, Kentucky, 21c Museum Hotel is a 90-room property that has an industrial-style feel with exposed brick and contains a $10 million collection of paintings, sculptures, photos, and video installations all by living artists. Sounded like a perfect place for us to stay, so Marc booked the hotel.

Upon our late arrival, we were greeted by a four-foot tall red penguin. This was only one of many in the fleet of red penguins at the hotel. Some could be seen outside hanging on the ledges of the hotel, while others surprised us in the hallways.


Behind the check-in desk, there were sculptures of nude children. This had high shock value. At first glance, I felt so uncomfortable that I had to look away. Once I got over the initial shock, I decided to take in all the hotel had to offer even if it meant looking at the sculptures of the young nude children.

The images and objects at this hotel challenged me to see things differently and I now have a greater appreciation for art. This hotel has a cultural soul and provides downtown Louisville with an artsy vibe. Even if you don’t choose to stay at 21c, you should definitely visit so you can take a tour of the museum. The art will really challenge your mind.

Our first stop in Louisville was the Muhammad Ali Museum. We visited on a Saturday morning and shared the museum with only one other couple. I genuinely enjoyed visiting the museum, although I have never been a huge Muhammad Ali fan. It was flooded with historical facts and featured Muhammad Ali’s amazing, yet troublesome, journey to fame. The museum is rich with history and one every tourist should visit. I felt enlightened once I left the museum and admitted to Marc that I didn’t know how much Muhammad Ali struggled on his way to fame.

Our next stop was the Louisville Slugger Museum. This was more my knack. I played softball for a good 15 years and have been an avid San Francisco Giants fan since the day I was born. As we walked toward the museum, I was instantly amazed by the height of the giant baseball bat leaning against a tall brick wall on West Main Street. After I took a few pictures with the massive bat, we toured the facility and learned about the process of making bats. My favorite part was when I saw nine SF Giants baseball bats mounted to the wall beneath a sign “2010 World Series Champions- San Francisco Giants.” Yes, I’m proud of my Giants. I also thought about walking out with Buster Posey’s bat, but decided that wouldn’t be the most brilliant idea I’ve had in my lifetime. I snapped a picture, though!The tour was very informative and I recommend visiting the museum even if you’re not a baseball fan. I’d visit just to smell the saw-dust, but I’m probably alone on that one.

A trip to Louisville wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Churchill Downs. Upon arrival, I noticed it must have been race day and I looked at Marc and said, “Oh no, we’re leaving. There’s a race and I’m not in a dress and I don’t have a hat.” He laughed and assured me all was going to be okay. We decided to go to the Kentucky Derby Museum since I had a lot of learning to do. The tickets for the tour were inexpensive and our tour guide gave us a wonderful narrated tour. We got an up-close look at the horses and I absolutely admired their strength and beauty.

Marc and I were pleasantly surprised when our tour guide told us we were about to watch a live race. I’m sure this wasn’t a big deal to Marc since this was just a small claims race and he has actually been to the Kentucky Derby. It was a big deal for me, however, since it was my first horse race. Let’s just say I can’t wait to attend the Kentucky Derby in the coming years.

Once the race finished, I had to make a trip to the gift shop to get a Churchill Downs Christmas ornament. I love collecting little ornaments of special places Marc and I have visited. It doesn’t make for the most beautiful tree, but our ornaments give our tree character and meaning. I also bought my mom Kentucky Bourbon Balls and her only complaint was that I didn’t bring home enough!

Exhausted from all the museums, we were ready to head back to our hotel and get our two free shots of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. Bourbon is a bit much for me, so I only took a few sips. Marc sipped on his like a true Kentuckian and polished it off before we headed to Proof for dinner. The atmosphere was very artsy with playful animal heads mounted to the walls. My pan-seared King Salmon was absolutely delicious, as was the Dark Chocolate Terrine I ordered for dessert.

The waiter didn’t disappoint and made wonderful suggestions. Proof’s finishing touch was a plate of hot pink cotton candy that was served to us with the check. Marc poked fun at it earlier in the evening, saying, “What is that lady eating? Cotton candy? Who orders cotton candy at a place like this?” Needless to say, we devoured the cotton candy when it landed on our table. Touche.

That evening, we ventured downtown Louisville to have a little out-of-town fun. Fourth Street Live is the main area downtown loaded with chain bars and restaurants. It instantly reminded us of the Epicentre in Charlotte, but really didn’t compare to it at all. We ventured into Angel’s Rock Bar and were welcomed by scantily-clad women. We entered and, to my surprise, the bar wasn’t even half full. My drink was absolutely awful and a complete waste of money. I tossed it in the trash after taking a few sips. The music was incredibly loud so we decided to leave within 15 minutes of entering the bar. So much for the $20 cover charge.


We ventured out to go to another bar, but after looking around, we decided this place wasn’t worth losing a few hours of sleep. I’ve never seen so many bachelorette parties taking place in one area. If I were a bachelorette from the greater Louisville area, Fourth Street Live is the last place I’d want to go. I will not return to Fourth Street Live unless they do something new with it. Next time we’ll hit up the Urban Bourbon Trail!

On the way back to Charlotte, we went out of our way so I could see the beautiful horse farms. The rolling bluegrass hills were absolutely breathe-taking and they were probably my favorite part of Kentucky. The farms were grand and the fields were vast. Marc also drove me by CastlePost, a fabulous hotel that was meant to be a man’s castle, but he ran out of money and couldn’t finish building it. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to a perfect trip.

~ Lyndsi