Archives for December 2016

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.



Cozumel: A Perfect Island getaway destination

Sometimes you just need to get away and when that happens the white sand beaches and crystal clear water Cozumel may be calling your name.  This summer I did a quick summer getaway to Cozumel and it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered in getting some major R & R packed into my summer.  As an island getaway Cozumel offers all the fun in the sun you would expect from Mexico with a small cozy feel perfect for taking a vacation that you don’t need a vacation from once you head back to real life.

I think the beauty of the beaches in Cozumel are reason enough to check out the island. The fish meet you at the water making it a great location for snorkeling, especially if deep water swimming is not your thing.  With the warm water you can also take advantage of all of the great other water sports like jet skiing and scuba diving.  My favorite is probably sitting where the sand and water meeting enjoying a pina colada but to each their own!

Outside of the water fun Cozumel is a beautiful place that gives you glimpses of big city fun and exotic adventures. If you are in a party mood their central district has some great bars and food all piled into one place where drinks flow with ease.  If you want to step back in time you can visit some of the great Mayan pyramids on the island.  My choice for Cozumel (outside the United last minute special ticket price) was the rest and relaxation so I refused to lose focus from my goals, despite the fun options that abounded on the island.  As I hopped between the ocean, my beach chair, the bar, and the pool I knew I made the right decision as I got my fill of downtime on the lovely beaches of Cozumel.

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.


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.


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.


Fort Lauderdale, an often overlooked jewel of South Florida

fort-lauderdale-vacation-6Fort Lauderdale, while often overlooked for its flashier cousin Miami, is a great place to visit in South Florida. Much of the things people treasure are found in Fort Lauderdale, beautiful beaches, great shopping, and a pletera of party options are all found in the 45 minute trek up from South Beach.  In my year of living in Miami I grew to love Fort Lauderdale as a smaller, less expensive, and more convenient alternative to Miami Beach fun.  As I travelled back with kids in tow on a quick summer get away I found these endearing features to still be true for Fort Lauderdale.


One of the biggest attractions people look for when travelling to South Florida is the beach. With fairly easy parking access to great beaches and a ton of beach shopping and restaurant options the Fort Lauderdale beach is a great option when traveling with families.  A1A is a long strip so just driving along it can give you clues to the location that is perfect for you.  I like locations that are close to beach rentals so if you need a chair or some beach entertainment the option is close by.

fort-lauderdale-vacation-1 fort-lauderdale-vacation-3

fort-lauderdale-vacation-5The fun of Fort Lauderdale doesn’t just stop at the beach though. The clubs and restaurants in Fort Lauderdale are simply amazing.  Areas like Las Olas offer a centrally located one stop shop for anything you could want to get into.  No matter if it is a bar hopping night or you are ready for a dance party or just want to enjoy a great meal and people watch Las Olas is a great option.  Within 5 or 6 blocks Fort Lauderdale knows how to pack a punch of fun giving you a range of options and prices.  What I love most about the configuration is that changing the scene is not a big ordeal, you can go from country, to hip hop, to jazz and perhaps even a little salsa by blowing like the wind through the Fort Lauderdale streets.  So if you want a taste of South Florida living without the super busy hustle and bustle of Miami Fort Lauderdale is a great travel destination for grown up and family fun.

Karaoke change up with a live band to back you up

karoke-at-the-alley-kat-4Your heart’s pumping, the music is thumping and it’s time for your moment in the spotlight!! Nope you are not really a star but for a couple of minutes when your song is up in karaoke, with a live band backing you up, you sure may feel like one.  I will never claim to be a great singer, but with karaoke being a cherished holiday past time for my family I have learned to perform and make the most of my karaoke selection.  On a random Friday night I wandered unto karaoke at The Alley Kat Bar with a twist!  As opposed to playing to recorded music, you get the chance to sing your karaoke with a live band, making the experience all more surreal.

Karaoke with a live band may not seem like much different than regular karaoke or even from the shower concert that you might put on every morning. This, however, does not give credit to the feel, timing, and even back up that a live band provides.  When I needed it they tried to harmonize, when I missed words they were there to pick me up, and just the natural feeling of getting amped up by musicians perhaps far more talented than you provides an extra boost of confidence that allows you to really hop into your karaoke character!

karoke-at-the-alley-kat-2 karoke-at-the-alley-kat-1 karoke-at-the-alley-kat-3karoke-at-the-alley-kat-liquid-courageSo regular me was lost for a moment, as the band began to play and the words began to stream upward I channeled my shower voice and my mirror dance moves and began to belt out the Eurthrmnics. Oh yes, Sweet Dreams were made of me once I got rolling and to the amusement or delight of the crowd I settled into an awesome night of fun.  Funny thing how much music came connect you with others and even yourself and as I wound down my time in the spotlight I realized that with the band included karaoke would never be the same.