ME Cabo: Beach, party and tequila in the heart of Cabo

With gorgeous sea views and situated just moments away from the pulse of the city the ME Cabo Hotel is a party lover’s dream in the heart of Cabo.  Initially I noticed ME Cabo when I stayed at a neighboring property and could hear the pulse of the hotel from my much more quite family hotel.  Moments like this always make you think the grass may be greener on the other side and in the case of the ME Cabo you may just be right.  Located a quick walk from Downtown Cabo whether you want to stay onsite or venture out into Cabo fun is just minutes away.

Although rooms and amenities are normally pretty important to me (make no mistake their rooms are in line with a Four Diamond hotel) when you step in the Me Cabo and look out at the gorgeous pool and seascape you know what the main attraction is. Yes Blue Marlin Ibiza Beach Club and the Night Rose Bar call to you as you walk in the door and if you aren’t careful may never let go once you get the party started.  We arrived to welcome drinks and tours of the hotel begging for us to change clothes and get out in the fun.  With pool parties vibing on the weekends and festive guests ready for shots and convo you can quickly lose yourself in the fun.

A little too much of the above and I did not make it out to Downtown Cabo for late night fun but all the clubs and bars to your hearts content are just a straight walk away. What I was able to enjoy however, was lots of pool and beach fun.  Depending on where you visit in Cabo you may be hit with the unexpected when it comes to making a stop for a beach vacay… beaches that you cannot walk on due to the rocks.  Yes often in Los Cabos the rocks on the beach can make it a pretty unusable area.   For the Me Cabo, however, they are directly located on Playa El Medana with a beautiful view of Land’s End, the Arch and Lover’s Beach so access to the beach is just a stone’s throw away.  Once you hit the sand you understand that the party is not just a night close to Me Cabo but a lifestyle as vendors and popular restaurants surround the beachfront property.  I started my morning at The Office and with their generous pours of Don Julio 1942 the party quickly got started.  So if fun in the sun is your main objective you really don’t have to look much further, Me Cabo has a perfect blend of luxury and party in the heart of Cabo.

Grits & Biscuits: The Traveling dance party and down south celebration

If you hear ’99 and the 2000’s and automatically want to hop up and relive your glory days then you might just want to perk up when you hear Grits & Biscuits is coming to your town.  Grits & Biscuits is more than just a party as it has garnered a cult like following in many cities.  It is a celebration of down south dirty music that usually you loved in a time where your life was free of responsibility and problems.   Instead your main plans revolved around what time the party started and what your fit would be for the party.  Yes that’s right the traveling dance party is a capsule of the good old days and if you now spend your days wrestling with the pain in the butt called adulting this will be the just what the doctor ordered. 

As I had long heard of the Grits & Biscuits myth I knew it was a dance party on steroids.  From celebrations in New York to Washington DC the parties normally sell out in hours if not minutes from those who miss the grit, grime and glory of a good down south party.  So I prepared my friends that sneakers were a must for the dancing that was going to be a certainty.  For its inaugural Houston event it was hosted at the House of Blues and the crowd proved that the party’s reputation had proceeded them.  From the second we walked in both the DJ and the party goers were serious about the fun they already counted on. 

From Juvenile to Trick Daddy to Outkast and lots of everything in between the beat of the party is meant to get your feet moving and your booty in the air.  With special sets from guest local DJ’s they manage to tap into a little of everyone’s preferences and as we are already in Houston they could not forget some of the Houston favorites.  To say I had a great time would be to putting it lightly as I only came up from air from the dance floor to make some rounds greeting friends.  Otherwise I was making sure to put the pass on fancy lady shoes to use and enjoy this great dance blast from my past.

Diner en Blanc: A dinner party like no other

What originally started nearly thirty years ago as a handful of friends gathering for dinner dressed to the nines in all white in Paris, has exploded to the famed Diner en Blanc celebration of food, friends, fun and all things fabulous.  Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Houston edition, however this traveling dinner party has stops all over the world including previous locations at the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Elysees.  But utilizing the elements of surprise and the host city’s natural beauty the event draws crowds of the city’s movers and shakers all with a have fun while “you see and be seen kind” of attitude.

As much of the event is hazed in mystery that quickly intrigues you and pulls you in I walked into the experience still in the fog.  And by experience I do mean the entire process as it is more than just one night.  It starts with registering, or trying to register, and if you have not been before waiting to see if you are pulled off the waitlist.  Then quickly moving to buy your tickets and as a newbie finding out that they supply the place and the party but it is your job to bring everything else.  And when I say everything else I do mean the whole shebang.  From chairs and tables to linens and plates the work is on your end to get things done within the all-white guidelines provided to you by your section leader.  As I opted to bring my own food I spent the day of the dinner in full panic mode.  From finding plates to putting together a dinner menu that would work on the move to my dinner date making table arrangement plans for the entire week.  After all of this and the huff and puff of moving yourself, your settings and your food to your space you are left with your heart and mind pumping with the following question: Is it worth it?????

Fortunately for the Diner en Blanc brand the answer to that questions is a resounding YES!!! As people began to pull out their table settings I knew I was in for a treat.  The average park we arrived to was transformed to all the elegance and glamour you would imagine on a beautiful night on the River Seine. With everyone pulling out all the stops from their outfits to their table décor the ability to just sit and peek the scene is absolutely thrilling.  The added bonus surprise is that all the work and hassle that it takes to get people prepared for Diner en Blanc has an amazing effect on the crowd.  I think its easiest to describe as the work makes attendees humble and hungry.  Not just hungry for food but for experiences, for laugher, for the opportunity to check into their friends and check out of social media, for the break  in their life where in a room full of other grown and sexy folks they can kick their shoes off and just enjoy life.  At the end of the day I believe this attitude is what the Diner en Blanc brand is built upon and without question after attending this reputation is on solid footing.  If you hear of Diner en Blanc coming to your city start doing the work to get in the know, it is well worth the work!

Dream vacation of relaxation in Cabo

Cabo is full of everything perfect for a dream vacation. There is something for everyone, beautiful beaches for the sun soaker, adventure galore for the thrill seeker, more clubs than you can count for the partier.  For all of these reasons plus the quick flight time from the US makes Cabo a mainstay in weekend getaways.  So for my most recent trip to Cabo what fun did I get myself into??? Well absolutely nothing and it was just what the doctor ordered!

I am all for a vacation that helps me break my normal cycle of business and gives me some of the spice of life I am normally missing. Especially when this destination involves a beach my sites are almost automatically set on getting in some fun in the sun with jet skis or scuba diving to zest up my life.  For this vacation, however, I was all about the R & R and man it looked good on me.

I will admit part of my freefall into my relaxation sabbatical was my hotel. The Cape Hotel is a beautiful luxury hotel nestled into the scenic Cabo Oceanside.  After a long flight and long car ride the Cape offered a beautiful escape.  With clouds and rain in the forecast it all merged together for the perfect storm of why not just chill.  So chill I did.  Yes I chilled at the pool where poolside service can even mean in the pool service.

I chilled in the cabanas when the rain began to pour instead of standard scatter to the room to get out of the rain. 

I chilled on my fantastic balcony with swing included and allowed the sound of the ocean to draw me to sleep.

I even chilled in their soaking tub in the middle of the room as I let the bubble bath take me away.

Pretty much despite my pre-trip plans I took relaxation to a whole new level on the trip.

For me this very, very relaxing trip to Cabo was a great reminder of just how good change is. As I spend most of my days constantly in motion I have convinced myself that this is just a part of who I am.  While this is true it is important to devote time in your life to things that do not come as easy…like being still and relaxing.  By nurturing a less prominent side of yourself you all your body and mind time to recharge and actually take on your life bigger and better than ever.  As I sat starring at the crashing waves of Cabo San Lucas I was reminded that life is indeed filled with wonderful things and most of them are just a reach away if we allow ourselves the opportunity.

Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair Sip and Stroll Ticket Giveaway

The Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair 2017

While the Houston area may boast several events for wine and food enthusiast, the ultimate food and wine celebration in Houston is the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair.  Over the past 6 years Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair has been raising the bar on the culinary standards in the city with a decadent celebration of food, wine and spirits in a collaboration that is truly unforgettable.  This year the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair is making some exciting changes to the mix to not only showcase some of the best food Houston has to offers and the top tier of wine and spirits from around the world.  Attendees win as the festival gives you an insider’s glimpse that will take your knowledge and appreciation to the next level.

In lieu of some of introductory events the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair will take on the road as teacher as it showcases food and wine in a more intimate setting.  In order to provide the perfect setting the On the Rocks Bartender Challenge has been replaced with private dinners to kick off the weekend festivities.  Choosing either the Boiling Point seafood boil or The Italian Invasion Dinner guests can mix great food and wine with intimate company and some great insight as they enjoy their favorites or try something new.  Additionally the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair has added several learning experiences that guest can attend Friday and Saturday.  There is nothing like identifying the why of your love for some of your favorite flavor profiles.  Taking the time to get deeper into the educational side only strengthens your appreciation for your favs and gives you clues on how to find other top picks based on your own palette.

The Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair made sure not to mess with the best, with their program changes, and Friday nights Grand Tasting is sure to be one for the books.  The Sugar Land Marriott Town Square serves as the perfect location to meet food and wine nirvana.  With everything from inventive culinary creations (I still dream about the upscale Frito pie) and tried and true favorites from HEB and local restaurant superstars the event provides a something for everyone in an unforgettable night.

Other favorites, such as Saturdays Sip and Stroll will keep more recent location changes, now done at Constellation Field but enhanced it with a two day option so you have all of Saturday and Sunday to get a chance to grab your favorite bites and beverages while enjoying some of the great performers who always deliver during the event. As the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair promises more of the core that has built its following as well as some great new opportunities to appreciate the food and wine on a different level this event is going to be a must on any food and wine lover’s schedule.

Day 2 in Tokyo Enjoying the mix of fun, fashion and serenity of Meiji Shrine

One of the big draws for me to visit Tokyo was getting some peace from the beautiful scenes and parks the city is renowned for so the Shibuya district was at the top of my list.  On my second day in Tokyo my quest lead me to Shibuya and the Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine to take a walk in the park if you will.  Often my travels are about seeing all I can see but crossing a city off your travel list does not have to be what wanderlust is all about.  Coming off the death of my grandmother, my motivation for traveling to Tokyo was just to take a break and appreciate my blessings and nature is one of the best spaces in which life is put into perspective for me.

Meiji Shrine is a huge area encompassing the temple area, covered walk ways and bridges, museums and historical buildings.  Unfortunately for us the access to the Treasure Museum is limited to the weekends, however the grounds in themselves are a looking glass into the world of ancient Japan.  During your stroll to the Temple you get to enjoy the tree lined walk ways and trails.  From the old wine barrel displays to the bonsai garden you have a sense of reverence for the history that is contained within the park area.

As we approached Meiji Shrine you are reminded that despite it begin a tourist attraction it is a place of worship for many as well. From the ritual cleansing of the face and hands instructions at the entrance to the shrine and prayer area there is a real sense of peace in watching others celebrate their beliefs.  I was lucky enough to even see a wedding processional solemnly parade through the courtyard.  This temple also did a great job of giving some explanations to the ceremonies and celebrations that were ongoing in the space.  During my visit I saw the harvest festival which used elaborate fruit offerings as a celebration of blessings.

Outside of the Temple the park is an explorer’s paradise. The grounds allow you to visit several historical buildings or just relax in the grass and enjoy the peace and beauty of it all.  Outside of the temple, however, the city is still bustling all around.  We decide to just wander our way to our next destination, even passing some comforts of home such as Garrets Popcorn.  We grabbed lunch just blocks away at the Omotesando Hills.  This is a go to destination for premium luxury brands, but as usual there was just food on the brain.  After a tour of the ten restaurants and their menus we settled on a small restaurant doing what Japan does best when it comes to food, showcasing simple ingredients in an exceptional way.  Even with my simple order of chicken the barrage of colors and sauces and flavors on my dish made it one of the most memorable meals I had in Japan.

While luxury brands were not my cup of tea this trip I am always interested in exploring local shops so we headed deeper into Shibuya to see what we could find. This is a huge area for shops and stores, most that are original to Japan.  After a long day of walking and exploring we headed back towards our train stop but the relaxing tour of the Meiji Shrine stayed with us as a sense of appreciation for the beauty found all around us that is celebrated in Japan.

Balanced traveling: Putting rest and relaxation into making big moves

International travel often demands you spend your time on the move, but sometimes you just have to know how to sit back and relax too to get the most out of a vacation. As I hit the hotel room in Tokyo after a couple of days’ worth of traveling I knew that my normal hitting the road was not going to work. I needed rest and relaxation and with the Peninsula giving me some amazing five star luxury I was in the right place to make that happen.

Usually there are two separate but equal trains of thought on travelling: those who hit the destination all in, soaking all the fun they can out of it and those who have R & R on the brain and plan to lay back and take a mellow break from their everyday life. Admittantly the first one is usually my go to, but I learned an important lesson on balance in my Tokyo trip.  Spending time recharging at your hotel is not only a great way to not come back from your trip needing a vacation from your vacation but it is a good way to get your money’s worth when booking luxury travel.  I now consider it mandatory getting my money’s worth time.  Enjoy the plush robe and slippers, soak your stress away in the tub, and ponder life outside the phenomenal view of your window.  All these things help define the vacation separate from the ripping and running that probably occupy your normal life.

So as much as I like this balance sitting still too long will never be up my alley. But exploring will always be a passion of mine so why not start the exploration at the hotel.  Great hotels are typically prepared for wandering spirits and have great amenities.  The pool and spa facilities at the Peninsula were exceptional.  As with most things very orderly (there was instructions on pool routine, swim, and then sauna then swim).  With the incredible views of Ginza and invigorating hot tub it did a great job of unwinding both my body and mind.  Lesson learned for me though that exploring a new city can start first with your hotel as you balance your quest for adventure with a desire to re-invigorate yourself.

The Peninsula Tokyo: Kon’nichiwa luxury!

When in a strange land, having some place comfortable and safe to lay your head can give you real peace of mind and when that place is crazy luxurious you may have found yourself in the Peninsula Tokyo.  Set in the business district of Ginza the hotel offers class beyond compare, a central location, transit options from within the hotel, and impeccable service.  My initial Tokyo plans did not include the Peninsula, however with the 4th night free offer with the AMEX Fine Hotels I thought it would be a great addition to what was sure to be a great trip.  When I read you could also access the train from the basement of the hotel while also being just minutes from the Imperial Palace the scales tipped in the Peninsulas favor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I am a big fan of the Peninsula Chicago for their lovely high tea service, this was my first time staying at the Peninsula hotel. After some sickness on the plane and an hour ride from the airport, the welcoming staff was definitely a site for sore eyes.  As expected the lobby areas were beautiful, although much more compact from the sprawling Peninsula Chicago that I was used to.  After moving up to my room, however, I could care less what was the lobby dimensions as the room was simply amazing.  From the large walk-in closet and dressing area to the opulent bathroom to the huge master suite and sitting area with expansive views of the city around I was in love.  I would be doing a disservice if I did not mention my favorite part, the toilet.  No bidets are not the rage in America, but this one was something special.  I have seen nice ones, but a toilet that automatically lifts the seat when you walk in, has a warmer, spray settings for both front and back targets and even a dryer (Yes a dryer) literally blew me away.

As with most great hotels the extras are where you lose any lingering regrets you may have about the price. Including simple amenities that are a lot more important when you are far away from home like Q-tips and slippers, tvs and radios in the bathroom, Oscar De La Renta soaps and shower gels all add to a wonderful and luxury experience at a hotel.  These things you can’t qualify but also can’t duplicate at a hotel that is not on par.  For instance after noticing one guest was a mini, we came back to the room with a special baby basket and kids robe and slippers for my one year old Bronx.  Now this is class at its finest.

My next biggest concern with a hotel is always location as I like to hit the pavement in a new city no matter where that is in the world. The hotel is centrally located and close to the shopping in Ginza, the Imperial Palace by foot and the incredibly efficient train stations to get you to most of the highlights in Tokyo with ease.  The staff did a great job in arming us with site and transit maps before we headed out on our way.  The one drawback for me was in reading about the transportation options online before arriving.  When we went to book the basic car service I thought would be a free, first come first serve service, we were told it was only associated with suites in the hotel and could not be accessed.  As the trains were so convenient it wasn’t a sticking point, but some places such as Tokyo Tower, are still a bit cumbersome to get to with the transit system.

Without question the comfort and luxury found in the Peninsula hotel could have you spend your entire vacation in the 500 sq. ft. of a room and love every second of it.

Tackling Honolulu in 24 hours with Waikiki beach fun

Yes when you get news you have a long layover in Honolulu Hawaii of all places it is like you stepped out of a nightmare and right into a dream. My path to Honolulu was definitely not blue skies as there are few things worst then being told you won’t make a leg of an international trip.  So after a night of being puked on by a baby and a couple of hours sleep in LA I was stood at a counter close to tears about my flight to Tokyo.  Luckily an unexpected blessing was coming my way as although there were no flights to Tokyo in the next 2 days out of LA I could connect in Hawaii for a long layover.  No question my answer was yes!!!

 

So what do you do in Honolulu with just a day there and no real preparation for your trip? Well that’s easy.  First is just to remember there is always a silver lining and just be grateful.  After that immediately book a hotel room around Waikiki, buy some flip flops, and go flying towards the beach.   Just to highlight all the wrongs made a right on this trip for me a rainbow popped up to highlight my great luck.  The Waikiki beach and sunset is nothing short of amazing.  It is a great time to give pause to just what a blessing life is.  And as things are looking up there is still a ton to do in Honolulu once you get your beach time in.

The Waikiki beach area has really built itself up with great shopping and restaurants all within an easy walking distance. With their late night hours and busy walking traffic you almost get a baby Vegas strip vibe.  We set off to do a little shopping and fill our bellies as we took on the 24 hour Hawaii challenge.   The only downside of a very commercial build up is that you can lose some of the more authentic stores that are a real refection on Hawaii.  So after popping in a couple of Urban Outfitters and other stores we decided that food was the new top priority.  To start Hawaiian shaved ice!!! Okay I had a mild obsession while I was pregnant but my love did not prepare me at all to an authentic Hawaiian twist.  At Island Vintage Coffee Shave Ice they had fresh favors and Hawaiian ingredients that were one of a kind.  Not to mention how amazingly light the ice was.  It was a great warm up for what was to come.

We took some good advice from a stranger also scarfing down shaved ice and wandered into a newly renovated shopping center, the International Market Place.  In addition to some great luxury shopping options the third floor is dedicated to some great eats and good times.  On the weekends they have live entertainment and the band that was rocking 80’s music and 70’s funk had my son getting his serious grove on.  At the Eating House 1849, the food was an eclectic mix of Asian Hawaiian influences and the 1849 Spicy Ramen Bowl and Tavern Style Fried Chicken were a perfect cap to a long day.

Up in the morning and while my mind is on Tokyo there is still time for some final Hawaiian moments. We heard that the Island Vintage coffee company with their honey latte was the place to be and the long line we faced confirmed the recommendation.  With a gorgeous grassy area and great view of the boulevard it is a great way to wake up your day in Hawaii.  It is a great reminder that the best memories happen in a moment.    You don’t always have to have an extended stay, just a fabulous location with the ones you love can give you the opportunity to make memories that last a lifetime.

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