Browsing Category

travel

travel

Travel Guide: Cancun JW Marriott

This was our 4th year visiting Cancun & staying at one of the JW Marriott Properties!  You can see my last cancun post here. We rotate between the Casa Magna & JW each year.  My favorite is always JW, and they even updated all the rooms this year!  This place is all inclusive, and we are not your typical “All-inclusive” travel people, but their staff and service blow us away each year.  The hotel always seamlessly pulls every event and dinner off perfectly despite have 2,000+ people they are catering to at any moment.  I shared videos of the entire week on my instagram highlights, which you can find here!


(Picture from the property, linked my outfit here)

Room we stayed in: I always chose the ground floor when we visit because it is easy access outside to the pools/beach and breakfast buffet!  I think our exact room number was 127.  We had a king bed and ground floor balcony.  It was  Standard Guest room, you can book it here.

 


(Suit LSpace, Becca Tilley X LSpace edition)

What I love about the Resort:  Of course its nice that its all inclusive.  You can drink & eat all day long and not worry about the bill.  My favorite things to get on the menu were the Nachos & fruit plate!  My favorite drink was the frozen Mojito & “PnP”.  They have Coconuts on site they chop open, I would drink the coconut water in the morning and keep filling the coconut up with my mixed drinks throughout the day.  I also loved how you got hop between the two property pools.  JW Marriot was more the quieter/family side, while Casa Magna seemed to be a pool party & you could play volleyball in the pool.

Dining:  All the restaurants we went to off property were right across the street & Amazing.  I still highly recommend the same places on my last post.  But new this year we tried Toro, and I woke up thinking about my meal!  I would compare it to a Nobu but honestly even better.  Request to sit on the outside patio over looking the water.  Other regular favorites: Harrys, Indochine, Puerto Madero.



(Both dresses & two piece above Tiare Hawaii)

Excursions:  The Mayan Expedition/Cenotes: They opened up a new excursion this year all the way in Tulum (I’m still dying to stay in Tulum for a long period of time, so this was as close as I could get for now)! It was about 1 hour & 30 minutes away, but it went fast on the bus.  This tour was all day starting at 8am-2pm.  We ziplined the first half and finished by ziplining into a cave of water!  The other part of the excursion involved cave repelling and swimming in the cenotes.  Such a cool experience!


(I wore this exact suit from Cabana Life & it was the perfect outfit for this excursion!)



We will be back next year Cancun!  I will say we felt safe the entire time but we stayed on property and only worked with the resort directly for excursions.  We were told to not go off site at night without supervision, there also didn’t seem to be a big threat with Zika going on this time as well.

travel

Travel Guide: Aspen CO

This was our first trip out west to ski/snowboard, so I was slightly nervous about the mountain size and the elevation change.  Plus, I heard Aspen had gotten the most snow they have seen in the last 5 years!   Aspen was all the hype, a cozy well known mountain town, and at the end of a long weekend it felt like we knew everyone.

This trip very was last minute because some of our best friends decided to head out there for one of their birthdays, and of course we said we would come. I have major FOMO, so I got to planning. This trip was planned in 32 days (I say that exact number because I typically plan my trips out MONTHS in advance to have ample amount of time to coordinate everything). At the 30 day mark, in most big cities, you have to schedule reservations at the top dining hot spots or you have no luck getting in day of. I had 2 days to research all I could about Aspen before the 30 day mark hit and I scrambled to grab those hard to get reservations I live for! (spoiler: I got them). 

Scroll past all the pictures if you’re just here for the restaurant hit list, ill include at the
bottom!

(Outfit available at Gorsuch: Jacket here/ Pants here/ Goggles By Electric Women, shop here)

I was styled by the wonderful Gorsuch team at the Aspen Location all weekend!  They have stores at several locations in Colorado & Utah.  They also supply ski rentals and have an adorable coffee shop right at the bottom of the Aspen Mountain lift.  I highly recommend stopping in one of their stores if you visit to get the latest fashion trends to wear on the slopes or around town.  Huge thank you to the Gorsuch team for being so awesome and letting me not have to worry about what to wear!  Ill link all my outfits on each picture for you!

 


(Gorsuch Attire: Jacket here/ Ski suit here/ neck warmer here/goggles here/ Snowboard Rental By Ski Butler here)



After I was styled- We headed over to Ski Butlers Aspen Location to get fitted for our snowboard/ski rentals!  Their shop is located right above Rossignols clothing shop.  Their team was very educated on the best type of board I needed based on my experience and also fitted my husband for skis.  You definitely want to get a helmet too, I took a hard fall and was thankful I had my helmet on one day!  Ski Butler provides exclusive skis that are not even available on the market yet! Renting ski gear from them as soon as your arrive is a no brainer, saves time and ton of hassle, below is straight from their site.

(Thanks Anton for assisting!)

LET Ski Butlers do ALL THE WORK:

We deliver your rental gear for free

No hidden fees. We bring all your gear, from skis, snowboards, boots, poles and accessories directly to your accommodations. We’ll pick up all your gear after your final day on the slopes while you relax in your accommodations.

We fit you in your room

Our Ski Technicians arrive at your accommodations and custom-fit your gear in your room. We bring extra sizes, so we can guarantee a perfect fit on the delivery. We don’t leave until your are completely satisfied with the fit and feel of your rental equipment.

We offer on-mountain support

If conditions change while you’re on the mountain and you’d like a new ski or snowboard, or maybe a boot needs adjusting, or you want to try different gear altogether, just give us a call. We’ll come right to you within 45 minutes of a phone call and change out anything you would like.


(Thermals by Sweaty Betty, shop here: Use code SBBecca25/ Hat here)

Where to stay in Aspen:

  •  VRBO/AIRBNB:  We stayed at this VRBO rental located right across the street from Aspen Highlands.  I had no idea about the layout of Aspen before booking this place, but it turned out to be the ideal location for us.  We were able to get up every day and walk straight over to the ski lifts.  If you are planning to ski everyday, I would highly recommend getting a rental right by one of the mountains.  We ended up skiing everyday on Aspen Highlands mainly due to the convenience of where we stayed.  This place was 4 bedrooms, the beds were so cozy, and easily fit our party of 8.  We all agreed we would love to stay here again if we came back.  The property is overseen by Aspen Resort Accommodations, check in/check out was very smooth!  Thank you to the wonderful team for hosting us, book this property here!
                                      
  • Hotels:  I heard great things about the Little Nell Resort, St Regis & Hotel Jerome. We visited all these places and they were all stunning in an ideal downtown location.  I would stay at a hotel if you were traveling with just your family, or a romantic weekend away or solo.  The advantage of staying at these hotels is being able to walk to all the shops and restaurants.  (keep in mind: it sometimes took us 20 minutes to get an uber from our rental to get downtown and depending on the time the price for uber would surge.)

What to do in Aspen:

  • Snowmobiling- Tlazy7. We booked snowmobiling the first afternoon we were in town because I heard you should take it easy with elevation/skiing the first day and adjust slowly.  We all chose to have our own snowmobile!  This was the perfect afternoon to adjust.  We were supposed to do the Maroon Bells tour but the conditions were too bad, so they switched us to a two hour pyramid tour.  It was the perfect amount of time to be snowmobiling.  We stayed in a line for most of the time going down trails, and then they let us do some racing which was really cool!  The instructors seemed very experienced and gave us some history while on the tour too.  I really liked how they had a shuttle you could call to pick you up and drop you off at Aspen Highlands.


  • Skiing/snowboarding- This is a given of course, but I heard the best mountain for beginners was to start on Snowmass.  We never made it there, but it looked decent.  The other mountains to ski on are Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, & Buttermilk (Where the Xgames took place when we were in town).  Make sure to ride the gondola at Aspen Mountain!

    (Gorsuch Style: Jacket here/ pants here/ shoes here)
  • Apres- This seemed to be the trend after getting off the slopes, or even on the slopes (insert Cloud nine!).  Have a drink, relax and take in the snow scenery.

  • Spa– We spent an entire day at St. Regis spa!  We all got day passes, they were $75 and you could use the facilities from open to close.  They had an incredible pool, sauna, co-ed waterfall pool, and an oxygen room.  

  • Shop- Walk around downtown aspen and check out all the stores.  It is such a cute little town with places to walk into around every corner.  We hotel hopped one day and had a drink, took in the views, and snacked various places.

    (Gorsuch attire: Jacket here/ sweater here/ shoes here/ bag here/ hat here)

  • Check out local events going on when you plan to visit:  We went during the Xgames– which lasted Thursday-Monday. They had concerts all weekend and competitions going on that we enjoyed watching!  It was more of a college scene, and I would recommend getting 3 day passes for the value (they usually include lift tickets with the price)

Where to eat in Aspen: 

  • Breakfast/Brunch: Little Nell, we ate here twice it was so good!
  • Lunch: Ajax Tavern, White House Tavern, Cloud Nine (Book the 2pm reservation and prepare to party)
  • Dinner: Bosq (get the sweet & sour eggplant), Matsuhisa, Jimmy’s, Cache Cache (we didnt make it here but everyone mentioned).  Check this article out for other spots.

Cheers to a great ski trip Aspen!  We will be back! (This was taken at Cloud Nine)

life,north carolina,travel

Travel Guide to Asheville, NC


I still cant believe I’ve lived in NC my entire life and have never visited Asheville. This past weekend, we experienced this beautiful town during 60 degree weather that hit us out of nowhere! Needless to say, we soaked in all the mountain air and explored this city the best we could in 3 days. We Started the trip by checking into The Grand Bohemian Asheville. You can book directly with them here.
They greeted us with champagne, and the scent of their candles at check in had me already feeling at home. I asked about the candles (you can purchase them) and each hotel has their own unique scent!

The Grand Bohemian is centrally located to every part of Asheville you want to explore! The Biltmore Estate is located directly across the street (though you still have to drive) and we took the kids one morning to check it all out! The Kids loved the “Antler Village” section of the Biltmore estate. There was a park, animals, winery, and ice cream shop all together.
The Hotel provided us with a fun brochure for family activities I am providing below, and I got several recommendations for kid friendly activities we weren’t able to check out!

Kid Friendly Places to Check out:
Mountain Play Lodge
Asheville Museum of Science
Well Played Board Cafe
Pinball Museum
Moogseum (Opens April 1st)
Navitat Zipline Canopy Tours
Breweries kid friendly: Funkatorium, Sierra Nevada
For more info, see list above or visit ExploreAsheville.com
  • Dining out in Asheville (All the above images are from the Red Stag restaurant, conveniently located beside the lobby of the Grand bohemian Asheville)  Also the places below were recommended several times:
  • Curate: This was Spanish Cuisine Tapa Style dishes, Get the Paella De Verduras- our favorite by far, it takes 40 mins so order as soon as you sit down.
  • NightBell (same owner as Curate)
  • Limones
  • Chai Pani
  • Breakfast: Biscuit Head, Tupelo Honey (but this is a chain), Holes Donuts & Vortex Donuts, Early Girl Eatery, Underground Cafe Donuts
  • Dessert: French Broad Chocolate Factory (prepare to wait on weekends)
  • Breweries: Sierra Nevada, Wicked Weed, Funkatorium

We loved our room at The Grand Bohemian, in fact the Bellman told us Kevin Hart had just stayed in this exact room! We had the One bedroom Suite, you can book it here. I felt like this was the perfect size for a family of four. The living area had a pull out couch that felt like a regular queen, and our king size bed was very cozy. The kids would have stayed in the jet jacuzzi all day if I let them! (see pics). The staff was amazing, food was great, and we really felt like they treated us like family after such a short time!

My dress is from Vici Dolls– was perfect for the 50-60 degree weather.

We wrapped up the weekend & Headed to the Omni Grove Park Inn! I had heard such amazing things about this place and the spa. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. I had the best facial/spa service of my life at this place!  This picture was taken on their sunset terrace. Grab a glass of wine from the bar and just sit out here for sunset (or sunrise if you’re an early bird!) to take in 
the mountain views.  In the warmer months, they open this area for dining.

The kids loved the Indoor Pool at the Omni Grove! It isn’t connected to the hotel, but they have a shuttle that takes you to the “Sports complex” which has air hockey, ping-pong, the pool, and several other activities. Located behind that is a playground too! If I had to explain the two hotels, I would say the Grand Bohemian had a chic, hip small luxury boutique hotel vibe easy for exploring Asheville. The Omni Grove is a huge property, that felt historic with a very well known spa. If you go to Asheville, I would put both on your hit list!

We will be back Asheville! The kids matching swim suits are from Piccoli Principi Swimwear, shop them here!

travel

Nassau, Bahamas Travel Review of Baha Mar Resorts

We started in Exuma & took a quick (45 min) hopper flight over to Nassau to stay 2 nights at Baha Mar Resorts.  I absolutely loved our resort, after being on quiet Exuma, Nassau is definitely where you come for most of the action.  I loved it so much, that we never even ventured off property.  Everything was perfectly set up for you to enjoy everything on site without getting bored.  There is a section on my instagram highlights here where you can see videos of entire trip!
Here is everything you need to know about our stay:

(Suit Pearl Street Swim)
(Suit Lspace)

Accommodations:  Baha Mar Resorts
This Resort is brand new (as in built in the last 3 years) and there are three different areas on the property you can choose to stay at.  The property is all connected, but it never felt overwhelming to me like Atlantis did (we have stayed there before, and I would never go back except for a day trip after this experience).  You also have access to every single pool on the property, which I thought was amazing no matter what section you stayed at.  There is a Casino on the ground floor.  If I had to describe this place, I would say a mix of Vegas Cosmo feel with Miami/Nobu dining.  Basically all my favorite things combined into one Resort.  Needless to say, we will be back!

Here are your options at Baha Mar

1. Grand Hyatt Baha Mar– We stayed here, I felt like this was perfect & affordable for families.  The rooms were all white & felt very luxury.  I loved how low the beds were to the ground.  The room came with your own iPad to show you the result property and let you choose activities for the kids or spa during your stay.

2. SLS Baha Mar I would stay here without the kids, or even with older kids if you want luxury feel all around.  Their lobby during Christmas was a beautiful site and their pool was my favorite.  Every pool has a different menu, and SLS pool was the only one that had the EXOTIC fruit plate I was obsessed with.  I probably had two a day :).  They also serve a variety of popsicles for kids and adults, heaven!

3. Rosewood- We didn’t get a chance to really check this area out with so much to do in our lobbies.  But their properties have direct beach access and I’m sure just as amazing as the others.

IMG_9323
(Views from our room, Grand Hyatt.  Dresses: little Choco Pink)

Amenities on the Property:

  •  The Pools: There are 6 pools!  Yes, 6 very different pools.  It was like you were at a different resort every hour, amazing.  Our favorite pool for food menu was the SLS pool.  For exploring/fun- Dean’s Blue Hole, you could jump off the rocks into the pool & there was an underwater aquarium where you went under caves.  We stayed at the hot-tubs right by that area a lot too.  It was the closet pool to the beach.

    (Suit Montce)(Suit Minnow Swim)
  • The Beach:  Beautiful as usual and not crowded at all.  Comfortable lounge chairs waiting for guest use, and there was a local Cabana boy that sold Coconuts for $15, and after you drank it he would provide an alcoholic drink in it complimentary!  They had water-sports equipment you could use, but we never made it down there enough to do it.(Dress PinkChickenNY)
  • The Sanctuary: This was an onsite interactive water area that grants guests access to feed the nurse sharks, stingrays and turtles!  Kids 8+ older can participate, or enroll your child in the kids camp and they will take them there too!  (I did this for Lainey and met her at the site & watched her feed the turtles & sharks!)

    IMG_8744
    (Suit Lspace)

  • The Food: Ahhh, I’m already dreaming of going back for the food.  There were amazing food trucks on every
    corner of the resort, from hot-dogs to tacos to snow-cones/ice-cream you name it.  Then the restaurants on site, hands down as good as Nobu chain which is our favorite restaurant.  We made reservations at Cleo & Katsuya both nights.  So good, Katsuya was my favorite.   We also had breakfast at Cafe Madeleine, Avocado toast + their cappuccinos were amazing.  Again, no complaints on any food which is rare because my husband owns an Italian restaurant and is always the biggest critic!
    (Suit Minnow- Mine: Montce)
    IMG_8020
    (Get the exotic fruit plate)
  • Service: Last but not least, the service at Baha Mar was 5 star!!  I don’t think one single employee ever looked mad, or answered my question with any hesitation.    Anything I asked for, they delivered happily.  I felt like we were their number one propriety when there were so many other guests there too.
    (two piece: Tiare Hawaii)

All & All, If you can’t tell from my review, this was an absolute new favorite resort of mine I am so glad we found.  I plan to take many future family trips here.  Thank you to the team at Baha Mar Resorts for being so amazing!

(Dress Ivy City Co, Discount: Becca10)

north carolina,travel

Travel Guide: Blowing Rock NC, Chetola Resort & Spa

I have been visiting Blowing Rock, NC since I was little so this post might be all over the place!  My parents have owned a Condo at Chetola Resort for 20+years, so its safe to say we have been to the area a lot.  Most of my travel guides on here have been to places I’ve had to research nonstop beforehand and we hit up every single hot spot during a short period.  Growing up visiting Blowing Rock, I find myself going to the same usual places we love and not exploring the city like we do other places.  But isn’t that usually the case in your own home-town?
I’ll tell you all our favorite spots below we hit up when in town, but you probably will find more on google too that I dont know about!

Accommodations:  Chetola Resort
Like I mentioned above, this is where we typically stay when in town because my family owns one of the condos.  The entire property is decorated & lights up during the holidays, so we are always there after Thanksgiving.  They also have big events in the summer for 4th of July, and Parades for both seasons.  The grounds are beautiful- So many people get married on the lawn overlooking the pond.
3 Types of Accommodations to choose from on property:
1. The Chetola Lodge- Which is just like your standard hotel rooms
2. The Bob Timberlake Inn- a Bed & Breakfast with 8 rooms that connects to the Lodge, above the main restaurant.
3. Condominiums- Which is where we stay- great for families!  They range from 1- 4 bedrooms!

Amenities on site:

  • Indoor Pool & Jacuzzi- My kids live here, so great during the winter months.
  • Spa on Site
  • Dining on Site
  • Play Ground & Kid Recreation Center
  • Outdoor Recreation:
    Sunbathing Deck
    Maintained Hiking Trails and Guided Hikes
    Horseshoe Pit
    Tennis & Pickle Ball
    Fishing Clinics
    Fully Stocked Lake
    Fishing Rods
    Paddle Boats/Kayaks/Paddle Boards
    Playground
    12-Hole Disc Golf

Things to do Around the area:

  • Explore Downtown Blowing Rock: go to the shops, park, tennis courts and basketball courts less than a mile from Chetola.
  • Visit The Blowing Rock– This is one of my favorite scenic spots that’s very close by.
  • Visit Tweetsie Railroad– If your visiting BR more than twice and have kids, get the season pass.  Its the same amount if you were to go twice, and you can go year round.  They just started doing Tweetsie Christmas, so its pretty much open on weekends year round now too!
  • GrandFather Mountain– Its about a 30 minute drive, cross the high bridge and hike the trails to see all the animals onsite at the zoo.
  • Skiing/Snowboarding: For beginners, or a short drive- just go to Appalachian Mountain.  For more advanced go to Beech or Sugar.  My personal favorite is Sugar for snowboarding.
  • Hike a Waterfall: We’ve done Laurel Creek Falls, but follow the directions online to a tee.  There are no signs.
  • Visit Rough Ridge for amazing views/pictures:  We did our family pictures here last year, you will see them below- its a hike up and then you can stand on the rocks overlooking the mountains.  Peak time is in October/November when its fall foliage!
  • Spa– for another beautiful spa off property, check out Westglow resort & Spa.  Breathtaking!
    (This is the path to Rough Ridge where these photos were taken)

Dining:

  • Bistro Roco– we make sure to always get a reservation here in advance during holidays!  Favorite date night spot.  It feels like you are in a cave/mountain kind of and I love there MacnCheese!
  • Mellow Mushroom– I know a chain, but its right in Downtown Blowing Rock and I crave their “esperanza” dipping pizza sauce.
  • Twigs– Go here for lunch on a nice day and sit outside, grab a draft beer.
  • Kilwins– Another chain, but go here for Ice cream & Lemonade when walking around Downtown 🙂
    (Our dresses are from Ivy City Co)

    (these photos were taken on the grounds of chetola)

*I love our tradition of getting family photos done during the holidays every year there! All photos were taken by the lovely- Sydney Gail, if you’re local to Blowing Rock area, and are looking for a photographer that knows the area well + takes amazing photos, book her here!

travel

Exuma, Bahamas Travel Guide with Grand Isle Resort

The beginning of our trip to Exuma, Bahamas was rough to say the least.  We have traveled there before (you can read that blog post here) and we were dying to go back.  From the East Coast, it typically is about a 5 hour travel day, a short two hour flight from Florida airport connections!  Our plan was to take our daughter Lainey on a girls trip to meet my sister in Nassau, but my husband didn’t want to miss out and decided to join!  By that point I had already arranged my son Roman to stay with my parents, but I regretted not bringing him the entire time.  So if you have toddlers, this place is perfect for them!
Pro Tip: Do not connect in ATL, or any big airport for that matter, with less than an hour layover.
Expert tip: Wait a couple days after the weekend of thanksgiving to travel.  The busiest travel day of the year is the Sunday after thanksgiving, we traveled on the Monday following and still saw the run over from the holiday by having our first flight delayed to Atlanta. Which then caused us to miss the one flight a day to Exuma from that airport (cue tears).  We also were traveling with my four year old daughter, thankfully I didn’t have our son who is two that day during the chaos.  We were able to get a flight over to Nassau a few hours later, then grab a connection from Nassau to Exuma.  This is where it was hectic, that plane in Nassau had a 6 hour delay!  :: This was Bahamas Air, who I don’t recommend flying in the future.  Everyone we talked to said they were notorious for long delays.  We finally landed in Exuma at midnight (left that morning at 5am).  We were all beyond exhausted.  This is where the vacation took an amazing turning point :).
Read below on everything you need to know.

Where to Stay: Grand Isle Resort & Spa
(I have a section on my instagram on my highlights where you can view all the videos of our stay and entire trip here)


(Views from the entrance/path to villas)

  • Accommodations: The entire resort includes Luxury Villas.  They range from one to four bedrooms with multiple level floors.  As soon as we arrived we were taken straight to our villa because it was midnight and the gate had our key ready.  The second we walked in I was blown away.  We had a two-bedroom, two level villa, with three total bathrooms.  Traveling with kids and staying in hotels a lot can be rough, but when you stay in a Villa you have all the accommodations like home you need (full kitchen/Washer/dryer).  This place was a slice of heaven.
  • Service:   They have a full time team available at all times to help you with anything.  I knew the service was going to be 5 star when I was in touch with their marketing team prior to arriving.  Patricia Santos (GR Social Media Manager) connected me with Lori Beal, a travel specialist with Stenner Travel who made sure we even had food waiting for us after all our plane chaos.  They both checked in on me non-stop from our delays at the airport, to us getting back home safely!  You can never go wrong having a travel agent when traveling.  They had their regular driver, Kevin, also waiting for us in an Escalade in the middle of the night.  They made us feel like we were the only guests on the island & took so much stress off my shoulders as soon as we got there.  I’ve never felt more special!

    (Breakfast/lunch & dinner at their onsite restaurant by pool)
  • Location: Grand Isle Resort & Spa is located on a beautiful strip of Emerald Bay on Great Exuma.  They have their own private beach steps down from the pool.  It was a quick 10 minutes from the airport, and still felt secluded yet close to other areas of the island if you wanted to scoot around.

    (Outdoor cabana bar by the beach)
  • Amenities: Okay, we have never stayed anywhere in the Caribbean that provided you your own golf-cart with your stay!  That was my favorite thing about this place.  You can take the golf-cart along the golf-course on the beach for a beautiful scenic ride or around the entire property at your own leisure.  Their Restaurant on site was overlooking the pool, which overlooked the beach!  The beach had kayaks, scuba gear, and sandcastle buckets for your own use too.  Yeirdon & Lainey took the kayak out one day & they provided the life jackets.

    Here is a glance at all the amenities on property:
  • The Palapa Grill ( we ate here for all our meals, sooooo good!)
  • SeaStar Spa
  • Fitness Center
  • Poolside and beachfront food and drink service
  • Free-form infinity-edge pool and an expansive sundeck patio
  • Complimentary supervised children’s activities
  • Access to the Emerald Bay Golf Course, a Greg Norman-designed course
  • Concierge
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Pack n’ plays and high chairs (subject to availability)
  • Nanny service (fee)
  • Private chef (fee)

What to do on the island, Excursions:

  • Exuma Water Sports:  We did the half-day Swimming with Pigs Tour.  We were picked up by 8:30am and brought back to our resort by 1pm.  If you had kids that still nap, I recommend this tour because the boat ride to all the action is not long.  This company was very smooth to book & work with.  They also had the nicest tour boat we have been on, with bench cushioned seats and fully covered underneath.  If you don’t have kids and want to experience everything on one boat trip, I would do the full day tour with them (We did the full tour last year, blog post here on that).

  • Rent a boat from Minns Watersports, and explore the island yourself if you know how to drive a boat.
    You can take it to Chat & Chill for lunch, see stingrays, and go scuba diving at your own pace!

  • Head to Tropic Of Cancer Beach.  We heard it was amazing, but didn’t have time to check it out.
    Spend an entire day there, grab some local lunch, and enjoy the beauty.
    Its the longest beach on the island.

    *We really enjoyed our stay at Grand Isle Resort & Spa, I wish we would of had more time to relax there.  Next time we will stay more than two nights :).  Book your stay with them here & prepare to enter into total relaxation!
    *Traveling Packing list
    : You can shop all our outfits and luggage on shop my Instagram page tab above or click here!
lifestyle,north carolina,travel

North Carolina Travel Stay-Cations

I was born & raised in North Carolina.  I went to school in North Carolina (except for a semester in Hawaii), and I now live in North Carolina with my family!  When it comes to traveling around the state, I find myself doing the same things I am so use to and grew up to know.  I wanted to break out of the ordinary and start traveling my own state like I do other cities.  These next couple months I am so excited to do several “Stay-Cations” in North Carolina and see some sides of these towns I haven’t before!  We have some upcoming trips to the mountains (Blowing Rock & Asheville) over these winter months so keep an eye out for those travel guides.

In NC, fall/Winter blend together for the most part. I wanted to show you my basic travel packing list for the kids when going on short one night stays in the area!
Here’s whats in their suitcase:

  •  Jackets: These Merrimane Jackets have been a life saver, not too hot, not too cold, perfect over the clothes jacket that’s so soft.  It also has a chic look too it, so we rock these jackets to church too :). * Fun Giveaway happening on my Instagram page, head over there for a chance to win a Merrimane Jacket!
  • Basic Tees/Leggings: My go to is H&M/ Carters for basic black/white tees for layering
  • Pajamas: Babybreez– I always try to put the kids in jammies when traveling for comfort.
  • Toboggans: Loving Love your Melon kid line right now!
  • Shoes: Uggs- so easy & Warm, I think im going to get black for both of them for christmas.
  • Essentials: Babybum products, from lotion to shampoo!
  • Packing Cubes: These making packing so much easier, got them on amazon here!

Below are some stays we recently did and Holiday events going on around the Triangle this month (Raleigh/Durham).  You can see my first Christmas post on events around NC here.

Winston Salem, NC
Where we stayed: The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel

  •  Proximity: We chose this hotel due to its convenience to downtown and tons of restaurants within walking distance.
  • Kid Friendly:  If you saw my stories on my Instagram, they didn’t do it justice.  This hotel comes with a complete underground basement with a basketball court, Bowling Alley, Slide, ping pong tables, and so on.  Anyone from kids to adults could spend hours in this area having a blast.
  • Pet Friendly:  This hotel allows dogs.  Its rare that I am at a nice hotel that also allows pets, so bring your fur babies!
  • Rooms:  We stayed in a large king room, the showers were amazing with kids- double sided no fights!
  • Buffet Breakfast: Starts at 8am, I would have preferred earlier because my kids are early birds but nonetheless it was delicious and easy!

    Raleigh, NC
    Where we Stayed: Hilton North Hills

  • Amenities: Their Indoor Pool & Whirlpool was the hit of our stay with the kids.  I love when a hotel has a pool indoors because you can keep the kids entertained no matter what time of year it is!  The place was huge and stocked with towels.
  • Restaurant on site:  Their new restaurant 88 Oaks was an easy choice for dinner & Breakfast.
  • Service:  Everything was perfect from check in to check out, to getting us anything we needed quickly.
  • Rooms: We had a king bed room and the bed was very comfortable, I usually toss and turn not sleeping in my own bed and didn’t wake up at all here.  The bed felt like a cloud.
  • Proximity: This location is within a mile from North Hills shopping, and we happened to stay the night of the Tree Lighting at North Hills!  A lot of fun action happening around this area for kids to be entertained.

We went to the Christmas parade in downtown Raleigh yesterday and then scooted over to the North Hills Hilton! There seemed to be a ton of events going on.  A tree lighting at North Hills Shopping center with a ton of vendors/events going on, and at the same time they had one in Lafayette Village we didn’t get a chance to check out.

The Kids are wearing their Merrimane Jackets in these pictures I mentioned above- giveaway happening on my instagram page!

Upcoming Events I am excited to check out and share with you, check them out if you’re in the area!

  •    Santa at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock NC
  •    Tweetsie Christmas- Blowing Rock, NC
  •    Umstead Tea with Santa
  •    Pullen Park Holiday Express
  •    12 days of Shristmas at Carolina Inn
  •    Polar Express
  •     Museum of Natural Science, Durham NC
travel

Loews Hotel Santa Monica Travel Guide



I just got back from New York this weekend and it made me miss California even more.  It probably didn’t help NYC was cold & rainy.  I am definitely a “cali” type of girl.  I mean the beaches, vibe, and food in Santa Monica have us coming back multiple times a year!  You can see our last trip to Cali & all we did on this blog post here.  Not to mention my sister lives there, so its an easy excuse to travel over :).  This trip, I am so glad we found Loews Hotel.  We decided to stay here on a Saturday night, and spend the day hanging out at the beach and Pier.  I knew this hotel was in prime location, but I was blown away the second we walked in.  The hotel has huge glass walls that face all the action on the boardwalk, with a pool overlooking everything as well.  With kids, I couldn’t ask for anything better to make our stay easier.

Here’s my highlights on our stay with Loews Hotel:

  • Location, Location, Location! Prime spot right on Santa Monica Beach.  You can walk right out of the hotel, and be on the beach, playing on the playground, or walking to the pier/restaurants.  There are so many rental companies right there too, you can reserve everything with your room number to the hotel.  We decided to go rollerblading on the boardwalk.  Roman ended up loving it more than lainey!
  • The Pool/Hot Tub: Both are situated on 4th floor of the hotel, outside and overlooking the incredible view of the ocean.  They have complimentary towels and chairs set up for you.  We were there on a Saturday and it felt like the perfect amount of people without being overcrowded.
  • Restaurants on site:  They have staff on site at the pool to wait on you, and also have dining options outdoor by the pool too.  All our service was 5 Star.  We ended up having breakfast outside in the morning as well because the weather and views are just too good.
  • Rooms:  We had two queen beds, both very comfortable.  The rooms also came with sound machines (this was genius for traveling with kids)
  • Service: From check in to check out everything was quick and smooth.  The Loews Team sent us wine, cookies, and milk for the kids with a personalized card (they spelled everyone’s name right: yeirdon, lainey, roman. very impressed).  I thought that was so sweet, sometimes with big hotel chains you get lost in the mix with all the people.  Loews made us feel like we were there number one priority, and it definitely felt special!
  • Loyal Customers– We spent a lot of time in the hot tub and we met so many locals that were members with the hotel for over a decade!  They all new each other and only spoke highly of the hotel.  Apparently you can join and pay a yearly fee if you live in the area and use all their facilities.  If I lived there, this would be on the top of my list.Here are some images from our stay with them, PS they have several other locations.  Book your stay with them here!

 


Now to our Restaurant Hit List:

  • Elephante: I do a ton of research online and on instagram before we plan to visit a city (so you don’t have to!).  This restaurant kept popping up as “new to the scene” and the “hottest new restaurant in Santa Monica.” I saw several of my favorite celebs/bloggers dine here online.  It didn’t disappoint, you NEED to make reservations here 30 days in advance if you’re going to get in.  It has a club like feel, their are two bars and the tables are laid back vibe.  I wouldn’t bring kids here (the music is loud)- this is a good night out with friends or date spot.  Get the “whipped eggplant” hummus. I am still thinking about it!
  • Scopa Italian Roots: THIS PLACE FOR DESSERT! (they shake donuts in a bag of powdered sugar in front of you).  Melt in your mouth.  I’d go here once a week if I lived in town, and I’d be broke too.  Besides the dessert, each dish was tapa style and just as good!
  • Nobu, Malibu: About 30 minutes from SM, but if you’re a seafood/sushi lover its the best.  Prepare to be dining among the best (John Snow from Game of Thrones sat at the table next to us, and Sheryl Crow was dining another time when we went).  You need to call 30 days in advance to reserve here too.
  • MEAT (Venice):  This place is the sister restaurant to WATER Grill (which we’ve dined several times and wanted to try a new place).  I vote Water grill over Meat.  This place was really big and didn’t have that intimate feel I like.  The staff was slower than normal too, and with kids I cant handle eating out with slow service for their sake and mine.
  • Tocaya Mexican- Chain, we rode our “Bird/Lime scooters” Over to the Venice location one afternoon here.  It is a unique twist on mexican and all the drinks/sauces are so good!  Why can’t we have chains like this in NC :(.
    (The kids loved skating on the pier, their skates are from playwheels Order them here)

    (We visited a few pumpkin patches that were just up for the season, one we loved the best was hosted at the platform by Mila & Emma.  I hope they continue to do this every year because it was the cutest set up!)
    I linked all my outfits here
travel

Airstream In Malibu

         

 

I had been eyeing this Airstream in Malibu for years now.  I first saw one of my favorite bloggers (Amber Fillerup) visit it and blog about it here!  I then started seeing it pop up all over social media after Taylor Swift did a shoot for Vogue and Kortney Kardashian did a stay-cation with her boyfriend!  We decided to bring the kids, and all our friends met at the top to watch the sunset with appetizers & Wine.  Luckily my sister and dad were with us, so they took the kids at bedtime back to Santa Monica and let us enjoy the place to ourselves!  There is only one bed, so its best suited for a couple.  We did have some of our friends come camp out on the mountain right behind us though- so that could be an option for a big group!

But let me tell you, it is worth the hype (and hike!).  We chose to do one night and Yeirdon wished we had stayed their the entire time (I mean he is a doomsday-prepper and all haha).  If you’re into “glamping” with a once in a lifetime view, stay here.  I was happy we just did one night, I like to be social and explore area (eat out nonstop) when we visit cities.  We did go to Nobu the night we stayed at the airstream, and I immediately regretted leaving and have to drive back in the pitch black up the 5 mile dirt road back to the airstream. (minor anxiety attack).  Other than that, waking up to the sunrise on the side of the mountain at 6am with no one else around but animals was surreal.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You need an SUV to get to the airstream, I don’t think any Ubers/taxis will take you there (its off a beaten path)
  • The sun sets on the airstream side, so if your going to enjoy it and get your pictures in do it at sunset!
  • Follow the fall itinerary below the provided us, make sure to grab wine/groceries (they have a mini kitchen on site)
  • The bathrooms are open air
  • Bring bug spray, tennis shoes
  • Stay on the lookout for wild animals!
  • Bring “on the go chargers” for all your electronics, there is no service there!

This is the Itinerary we used for one day with them:

FALL ITINERARY:

Assuming you have the entire day off, go to malibu EARLY and either spend the day at the beach or go hike one of the many great hikes in the area (google Malibu best hikes). Finish the hike by noon, go grocery shopping in point dume or Trancas market so you can then check in by 2pm at the latest at the airstream and enjoy an amazing afternoon at the property. You can do a small hike up there if you want but odds are you will not want to leave!
If for any reason you run out of wine, Neptune’s net restaurant sells some and is only 8 minute drive down.

* Make sure to bring an iPhone cable to plug into the battery or stereo for your music and have an “offline” playlist ready as there is no reception for Spotify.

Don’t hesitate to do this if you’re in the area, I had to reserve it for one night months in advance!  If you click this link you can get $40 off your first time booking airbnb!  (this isn’t sponsored by airbnb, I paid for our stay. They give each user a coupon code to give people and that is mine).

Packing list:

travel

Disneyland Halloween & Our Stay with Ayres Hotel

I am officially Disney’d out (maybe for at least a year).  My husband is a Disney fanatic, so for some reason we have been to Disney (Land & World) 4 combined times now in the last 4 years with toddlers!  It definitely gets better/easier every time, but boy I can’t wait for the next age when they are older and calmer (no tantrums/no naps).
See my first blog post on Disneyland & DisneyWorld here.

We decided to do Disneyland for one day since we were visiting my sister (who lives in LA) this month.  We have never done Disney for Halloween season, so it was special in that way too.  We went on an off day (thursday) that wasn’t “Mickeys Halloween Party” and the crowds seemed pretty low!  Maybe when they are older we will do the trick-or-treating event one night.

We also chose to stay with Ayres Hotel Anaheim due to the convenience to the parks, and needing to have a break for toddler naps!   It is ranked as #5 hotel in Anaheim, you can see the reviews here.

Here’s what we loved about Ayres Hotel:
Location- This is the main reason we chose this hotel 
(It is within minutes to disneyland & the Honda Center-across the street)  The hotel provides shuttles to and from Disneyland for your convenience via transit as well.
Beds- Very comfortable and black out curtains (for the kids).  We came back during mid-day for nap-time, everyone slept 3+hours, the rooms cooled down instantly and were very clean.
Amenities- They have a pool onsite if you have the time to use it, we didn’t!
Service- This is key, since my husband is in the service industry.  Everyone was very nice and responded to any of our needs quickly!

Heading to Anaheim? Click to Book your stay with them now!

Here is Our Halloween DisneyLand Itinerary for One day:
(Book your tickets through the app prior to arriving for sake of time, and make sure to chose MAXPASS!)
7am- do extra magic hours if staying on property.
8am- Arrive if no magic hours, We ate at Plaza Inn (make this reservation 90 days out!)  With toddlers, this was the quickest and a sure way to have a good meal while seeing all their characters! (Minnie, Mickey, Pooh, etc).

Then We followed this by Touring Plans (one day with small children guide). With the MAXPASS at disneyland, you can reserve “fast pass” as soon as you enter the park every hour (ex. 9-10am one, 10am-11am another etc).  We got fast passes for Haunted Mansion, It’s a small world & Buzz Lightyear.

  1. Peter Pan’s Flight
  2. Dumbo the Flying Elephant
  3. Alice in Wonderland
  4. King Arthur Carrousel
  5. Casey Jr. Circus Train
  6. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  7. Mad Tea Party
  8. Storybook Land Canal Boats
  9. Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  10. Gadget’s Go Coaster
  11. Mickey’s House and Meet Mickey
  12. Minnie’s House
  13. Rest

    Eat lunch In this step, set the time at which you’d like to eat lunch.

  14. it’s a small world
  15. Mickey and the Magical Map
  16. Meet Disney Princesses at Royal Hall
  17. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
  18. Walt Disney‘s Enchanted Tiki Room
  19. Pirates of the Caribbean
  20. Haunted Mansion
  21. Mickey’s Soundsational Parade

    Or whichever parade is being performed on the day of your visit.

  22. Rest

    Eat dinner


*Key things to note for Halloween Season:
-Haunted Mansion is decorated differently only this time of year! So that ride is a must.
-Take the famous Pumpkin picture as soon as you arrive if you want it, lines get long (we waited about 15 minutes to take ours).
-Grab the pumpkin Mickey Shapes beignets right by Haunted Mansion (Mint Julep Bar)! Only seasonal and so good!

You can shop our entire family’s disney attire on the @liketoknowit.app here!