The Delano South Beach a sleek and modern luxury hotel

If laid back luxury in Miami is what you seek then you should look no further than the Delano South Beach for your stay in Miami.  From its sleek reception area, to its airy restaurant to its chic poolside the hotel unites the it crowd, luxury aficionados and professional powerhouses all under one blanket of Miami indulgence.  I fell in love with the Delano many years ago where the one of a kind old fashions and sought after address made me feel at home with grabbing a drink and people watching on a solo night out on the town.  Within seconds the sights from the sushi serving to the lively pool games to the gorgeous décor you definitely feel like you have arrived in Miami.

The location for the hotel is one of my favorites.  Located on 1600 block of Collins Avenue you are within a hop skip and a jump from most of the great offerings you can find on South Beach.  If you want to stay out of the party mix try heading up Lincoln Road with its great mix of shops and restaurants to get a real authentic Miami perspective.  With great opportunities to hop in on a salsa dance, grab a hookah or cigar and just relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the night the options are plentiful.  For more of the party goers you are again right in the magic spot, where you can walk or take a quick tax to the main Ocean party destinations like Wet Willies and Mangos.

For those wanting nothing more than just to relax the day away the Delano is as beautiful as it is welcoming.  Just step to the back patio where you can lounge at the open air restaurant or in the hammocks and even step in to one of the most eye catching pools that South Beach has to offer.  This gorgeous pools and its gorgeous servers is warmed and ready for you to relax, chat with friends and even make new friends as you unwind.  The expectation modern indulgence is carried from the lobby and restaurants to the rooms.   With comfortable beds and pillows you simply sink into the accommodations offer a refuge from the party hard or sun drained lifestyle you can take on in Miami.  My experience at the Delano was definitely one for the record books and should definitely be on your destination list if luxury is on the top of your list for your trip to Mimi.

Miami Weekend Takeover

Short trips are a perfect way to step out and recharge and there are few places that give you more variety in relaxation and fun that a weekend getaway to Miami. Miami has long been one of favorite places as it is almost like taking an international trip on a domestic budget.  The warm weather and international vibe make the city a huge melting pot with a little something for everyone.

Your hotel choice on a pop in flight to Miami sets the tone for what kind of weekend you should expect.  You can stay in the middle of the madness in prime time South Beach with a low Ocean or Collins address.  Just make sure to read up on the hotel instead of just looking at pictures as the lobby in some of these hotels can far outpace the reality of the rooms.  You can also go for some of the hotels on 17th and higher that tend to deliver a bit better on the rooms while a little more walking is required for fun.  If you are on the beach side of the street, however, you normally get direct beach access which is always a plus.  If R & R is your top priority going up to mid-beach area or Downtown Miami are great bets for a more relaxed and luxurious atmosphere.

I like the best of both worlds so I usually stay on Collins. I spun off from my usual SLS and hopped across the street to the Delano. The hotel is a great boutique concept with a good mix of business travelers, partiers and families.  While it is a little slower than my typical SLS expectations, the pool is to die for.  Heated to a baby hot tub temperature it is a great way to relax from a day at the beach or meet new friends who are kind enough to send over a bottle of champagne (if you are lucky).

One of my favorite things about a weekend in Miami is that you never know what you can expect. If you are open to let the opportunities find you, then you really never know where you can end up.  This trip in taking a quick beach day detour for sunblock we came to the Ritz Carton restaurant’s showcase of a new grill and White House Chefs tour.  Soon as I caught a whiff of what they were serving up I was sold and what started as a short walk to Walgreens became a great taste of new creations both on the grill and behind the bar.

While weekend trips can be short, they abbreviated length puts you on notice to make the best of it. If you can to rest dive in, if you came for fun plaster a smile on a friendly ear and get out there.  With a good attitude you can easily get everything you want out of a quick trip and when in Miami you can make sure the city owes you nothing when you pop in and pop out.

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.

Bubbles and luxury-the Ritz Carlton Buckhead

The Ritz brand is synonymous with luxury and the Ritz Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta head up to that reputation and more.  Situated just steps away from Lenox mall the hotel offers great amenities and a personal touch that defines what a luxury hotel should be.  The lobby was definitely at the top of the list as a highlight for me.  If you are thinking is it because they gave you free champagne when you walked in the door then the answer is a resounding yes!  The mimosa station that was set up for happy hour on the Saturday we arrived was just what the doctor ordered when it came to shaking off the jet lag blues.  And as the Ritz name suggests just the ordinary would not do.  With flavors like Apple cider mimosas I made the lobby my central station as we waited for our room to be prepared.  Top that with the whiskey tasting that happened once the champagne was carted away and you begin to catch a glimpse at what makes this hotel stand out.

My next stop was at the spa.  While I only had time for a much needed pedicure I still had the opportunity to unwind in the shared spa areas and prep for what was sure to be a long party weekend.  The sitting area designed like a little oasis was the perfect location to slow down, drink some tea, reflex, relax and take a breath.   To top that with having your feet rubbed while watching a clear view of the city skylines you can lose yourself in the mellowness of it all.

When you add the bonus drinks and a staff that treats you like royalty the Ritz officially claims its title as one of the best luxury hotels. While I am also a fan of the Ritz Carlton in downtown Atlanta, the Buckhead location gives you just what you were looking for: the comfort and regal vibe you expect from a Ritz from the rooms to the staff.

Hard Rock in Cancun: Adding a little rock and roll to your vacay

The Hard Rock Hotel Cancun is everything the Hard Rock has become synonymous with: a party atmosphere, beautiful lodgings, and a great vibe from its guests.  When you add these classic Hard Rock elements with the natural beauty of Cancun in a premium all-inclusive hotel, you amp up the volume on a typical Hard Rock visit.  I have always loved the vibe of the Hard Rock hotels as the rock and roll theme always puts me in a mood for fun.  With the great restaurants and prime locations the hotel chains in Las Vegas and Chicago hold some amazing memories.  In Cancun, however, this type of fun isn’t a novelty, the city itself has built a brand for party and fun so how does the Hard Rock make it even better???? Beach, booze, and bliss.

You usually know a good time is in store when at check in you are offered a drink of your choice.  Well at least that is a good sign for me.  Once you step into this beautiful property you know that most anything you want is at your disposal.  The many restaurants offer convenient seating and a variety of cuisine options. The bars are fully stocked with premium liquors and the bartenders pour freely.  The rooms are comfortable even including large Jacuzzis and also a full stocked bar ready for you to raid.  Room service offers a variety of options and deliver any time of the day or night.  Even with all this the fun does not stop there.

 

One of my favorite features of the hotel was the pool.  The in pool seating allowed you to rest in water to get a break from the heat in comfort and style.  The pool atmosphere is lively with performances, games and entertainment throughout the day.  While the kids hopped in a game of volleyball I hopped in between bar, buffet and the pool and finally finished out my day of R & R with some time on the beach.  With the sun coming down we got a chance to experience some of the nightlife options at the hotel with a nightclub pumping music throughout the main pavilion and hookahs picked up by small friendly groups enjoying the night breeze.  A delicious taco cart came out just in time to smooth the munchies that descended as we danced and laughed into the wee hours.  With so much to do you escape some of the boredom that can come with being in one place for your whole vacation and with such a great location you are always free to hop into some of the fun party or adventure vibe of Cancun.  Hard Rock Cancun does a phenomenal job of giving you classic hard rock fun in a beautiful tropical environment.

Kicking the luxury up a notch at the Intercontinental Presidente Hotel Cozumel

When a lush tropical paradise meets a luxurious homage to tribal ancestry in the form of a hotel you may have found yourself at the Intercontinental Presidente Hotel in Cozumel.  With just a couple of days between booking my flight and taking off for Cozumel I had to decide quickly on where to stay on this beautiful Mexican island.  With rave reviews the choice was easy and quick to stay at the Intercontinental Presidente. As we passed other beautiful hotels on the way from the airport I began to doubt my decision, however, as I turned into the expansive driveway with lush palm trees and a colossal lobby all regrets quickly washed away.

Upon arrival at the hotel you are welcomed into the unforgettable indoor/outdoor entrance. We were asked if we would like to upgrade our room and the extra money paid to have easy access to the pools and beach from one of the suites was worth every penny.  The grounds of the hotel stay true to the infusion of tribal offerings with a very posh twist.  The huge suite space gives a feeling of surprise and privacy around every corner from the separate standing shower and soaking tub to the sleeping area that leads to a phenomenal outdoor patio.  With a room this nice it is tempting to stay put but there was oh so much more waiting in the grounds of the hotel.

With rooms getting the thumbs up it was time to satisfy another pressing need… time to eat. The restaurants at the hotel offer a sampling of coastal Mexican cuisine.  While not the tex mex fusion we find in America, everything we tried at their main restaurant gave a little sampling of cuisine that spanned throughout Mexico.  My favorite by far, however, was the grill restaurant Trattoria Alfredo Di Roma.  Located directly in the sand next to the beach this restaurant focuses primarily on grilling to perfection.  The grilled chicken was melt in your mouth good with seasoning that left you licking each finger that got in on the meal.  When combined with a grilled lobster tail I as pretty sure I died and ended up in a foodie nirvana.  With that we ended our night with the waves crashing, the tequila flowing and the great company of friends.

Life aquatic was the goal for our first full day at the Intercontinental Presidente.  While the infinity pools and large hot tub seemed to offer some reserved relaxation, I opted for the gorgeous ocean at our doorsteps.  One of my favorite amenities of the hotel were the lounge chairs and couches available to enjoy the great views.  While many hotels charge for their luxury seating this hotel works on a first come first served basis.  Definitely some hogs tried to dominate the space with an early morning hat reservation so persistence is needed to find a spot you can make base camp for the rest of the day.  Once you have It you are golden, however, so no matter if it is a jump off the pier or a swim in the ocean you can always return to order food or drinks or catch an afternoon nap (for me a mix of all three were perfect).  If you want something more than swimming the hotel offers everything from the chance to explore ocean life from the rocky shore, to snorkeling on property to jet skiing.  Essentially something luxurious for everyone can be found at the Intercontinental Presidente in Cozumel.

 

 

Class and Comfort at the Westin Georgetown

Westin Georgetown Caucus Room George town view 2On my most recent trip to DC I got a chance to stay in Georgetown for my cousin’s wedding and was pleasantly surprised by the Westin Georgetown.  The Westin Georgetown offered a strong showing of class without the pretentiousness that can make a nice hotel a little too uptight.  Any hotel in Georgetown has a lot to live up to. The area is known for its old neighborhoods and even older money and with the metro not servicing the area it can seem a little out of the way.  Westin Georgetown LobbyI found the location to be perfect, however, as you could quickly access some of the fun and liveliness of other areas like the U street corridor while still being nestled in a serene yet active neighborhood.  I love to be out and about when out of town and the location forced me to second guess getting out and really made my vacation a relaxing one.  The Georgetown area still has a wide array of shops and stores and restaurants and the nearby waterfront offered another level in options when I surveyed what there was to do while I was in DC.

Westin Georgetown Pool view from roomThe Westin Georgetown offered all of the great nuances I have come to expect from a Westin, no matter where I am.  Luxury features like their dream shower head and bathrobes always set the stage for fun at the Westin and the Westin Georgetown met and exceeded my expectations with their friendly staff and beautifully appointed room.  The view with the pool had my daughter thrilled to be there and the courtyard was the perfect place to enjoy a sunny day or nightcap after a long day sightseeing.  Westin Georgetown Caucus room top view Westin Georgetown Caucus Room Entrance Westin Georgetown Boveda 3 Westin Georgetown Boveda 1 Westin Georgetown Caucus Room insideTo put a cherry on top of the great location, amenities, and people the fun was dynamite.  From room service to late night snacks to their great restaurants I was stuffed the whole stay.  The Caucus Room Brasserie served as a cool venue for my cousins welcome reception with great finger foods and a warm environment that got everyone comfortable and talking.  Boveda really made my day by serving a classic Caipirinha (my Rio favorite) and the fun vibe and weekly free salsa lessons had me wishing I could extend my stay for a couple of days.  All in all the hotel offered superior quality mixed with definite comfort that made the hotel a winner in my book.

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