Tampa Girls Weekend Fun

Birthdays are a perfect excuse to visit long distance friends so I recently hopped to Tampa for the weekend to get a taste of this South Florida destination and celebrate with friends. A weekend trip for a purpose is great as you get to wash away some of the excuses that normally plague a short trip.  Instead of worrying about ticket prices or how to work time off in your hectic schedule it becomes a lot easier to just bite the bullet and commit.  When you are visiting a new city the choice is even more tempting as you can get some of the highlights of a city in a very fun weekend with friends.

For this trip as I have amazingly chic friends I got some of the best food and drinks that the city of Tampa had to over. Fresh off the plane, thanks to a prime airport location, I quickly started my Tampa tour and the super sophisticated Ocean Prime.  This was my first time trying this is a national restaurant chain and I was definitely not disappointed.  The lounge and bar area have a cool kids vibe flowing from the staff to the guests.  The smoking Berries and Bubbles cocktail caught my eye as soon as I walked in and with first sip I was in love.  The food and service combined with this intoxicating cocktail started my night off on a high note.  To keep the party going in Tampa is easy as pie as they have several bar areas which making something you like a breeze.  As bar hopping is a serious past time of mine it was easy to go from grunge, to bar, to hookah, and even to live music so finding something up your alley is almost guaranteed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a long night of fun and a nice day of taking advantage of some of the great shopping Tampa had to offer it was time for a birthday dinner. Where else should you celebrate one of your most fabulous friends than the world renowned Bern’s Steak House.  To say the restaurant is a culinary experience is an understatement.  From the ornate decorations to the completely separate dessert restaurant the experience at Bern’s is top of the line.  While I am not a big steak person, I could not resist as you look at the giant menu of options.  Even more exciting is that you come in with the expectations you are about to give away your first born for your meal and I was pleasantly surprised with the cost of the food considering we got course after course of exquisite dishes.  For some extra bonus points you have the opportunity after your meal to tour the kitchen, including in house butcher, and wine cellar.  A great way to appreciate your gastronomic adventure at Bern’s even more.

 

Now of course everything I did in Tampa did not consist of food and drink but those were definitely some highlights. All in all Tampa was a cool city that had a mix of small town closeness with stylish city flare.  With their closeness to the water and constant festival city one thing is for certain, Tampa and its residents know how to have fun!

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.

Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel Review

fort-lauderdale-vacation-4Sleek and cool is a great look in South Florida and an exceptional look when it comes to the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach.  My first priority in South Florida is always the beach so being located directly by the water was my first priority when searching for a hotel.  With a prime time location right off the Intercostal the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach provides easy access to shopping, restaurants, the airport and freeway and most importantly the beach.

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Upon arriving from our drive from Orlando I wanted to catch the last remaining hours of fun in the sun beach time that I could. This is a great example of where it pays to join the hotel’s loyalty program.  These programs are usually free and come with some great bonus features such as upgrades, early check in and free drinks.  With the Sonesta Travel Pass I was able to capitalize on two at the hotel so while other guests where in a room holding pattern.  Quickly I headed up to my room and was pleasantly surprised at the great view of the ocean from the room.  The lobby and rooms offer a modern vide and don’t give you the old South Florida switcharoo where the lobby is amazing and the room falls short of the high expectations set.  With a quick pit stop in our lovely room we headed to the beach which was just across the street.

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The fact that I love luxury hotels is no secret and the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach showcased why the little things matter so much in this distinction. Having fruit infused water waiting on you are a great poolside bar serving up cocktails are just some of the features that really define value for me in a high end property.  In between beach fun and trips to Las Olas I found the location and vibe of the hotel great for a weekend getaway and a perfect home base for exploring Fort Lauderdale.

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Travel Recap: SLS Miami promises and delivers on a luxury experience

Shots at SLS MiamiI will happily admit that I like my share of luxury.  Although luxury is often defined in hefty price tags and exclusive settings, when you walk away what you are left with after a luxury experience how the experience made you feel.  Even the most expensive item feels pretty cheap if you walk away feeling you were not treated as lavishly as the price tag.  In almost every case of an encounter with true luxury the people define just what that experience is.  At my most recent stay at the SLS Miami I was once again reminded that the beautiful location, hip décor, and party atmosphere was just the appetizer for the main course in luxury: the superb service from a great staff. Shots and us at SLS Miami

I am not stranger to fun at the SLS Miami.  Once it opened in Miami I heard pretty quickly of the fun that went on at Hyde.  There is no question that if you are looking for a true Miami experience Hyde is a great place to start.  Just the people watching along gives you ringside seats to some of the beautiful people and crazy times that Miami has to offer.  SLS Miami Hyde poolsideThe day party always promises a good time with music that makes the hotel the envy of the block when approaching the hotel from the beach.  Although the hotel offers all of the Miami decadence one could want, you also have the choice in your experience to turn up or turn down to make your luxury experience everything YOU want it to be.  As I am always on a chase for balance I like that the choice is indeed mine as I enjoyed time relaxing on the beach and poolside in luxurious cabanas and lounges that define fun in the sun for me. SLS Miami beachside

Regardless of if my choice is party or relaxing, I am always pleasantly surprised by the exceptional service the hotel has to offer.  Everyone I encountered went above and beyond to make sure I was having a great time from the second the cab pulled up and I was escorted to my room.  Each member of the staff taking the couple of extra steps, giving those extra smiles and genuine conversations that make you feel like you are more around old friends than a guest at the hotel.  By the end of my trip I always walk around feeling well taking care of ready for my next visit.  When in Miami there are a ton of luxury hotels, but the welcoming staff at the SLS Miami always come through with setting themselves apart from the crowd in delivering on a fantastic experience. SLS Miami walk to the beach

Picutres courtesy of SLS Miami

 

 

 

 

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