The Perfect Day: 24 hour Mother's Day In Manhattan

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Women come to New York for the two L’s: Labels and Love.
— Carrie Bradshaw

When my husband asked what I wanted for Mother’s day I told him I wanted to go with him on his biz trip for 24 hours in Manhattan. And that’s exactly what I got and it was FABULOUS!

24 hours in NYC is nowhere near enough but I made the most of it for sure!

First stop? the Salon!

4pm : I landed at the airport and took an Uber right to Valery Joseph Salon for my appointment. If you’ve never had your hair done in NYC it is an experience! Although everything in NYC is an experience!

7pm: Checked into our hotel The Shelburne . This hotel was fine and that’s about it. The suite is large but basic. My husband had a meeting and the meeting organizer selected this hotel. I’m a hotel snob. (Sorry not sorry.) We’ve stayed in a lot of NYC hotels and the Park Hyatt is my favorite!

8:30 PM: Met my husband for dinner at Maialino NYC . One word: FABULOUS !

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8:30 AM : Breakfast with Peter and then he headed to his meeting. And I got ready for my day!

9:30 -11:00 I just strolled Madison avenue and popped in and out of shops. They have a HUGE Saks off Fifth so I did spend a bit of time in there!

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11:15 am I checked in to Sobel Skin for my makeover! I was excited but very nervous! I chose Dr. Sobel because he is a friend of a friend and she said “Howard is THE BEST!” Plus ..if he’s good enough for the RHONYC he’s good enough for me!

When I scheduled the appointment the week before, I was told to speak to his assistant Carol. She was incredibly warm and kind and made me feel welcome even before I got there.

The office is absolutely gorgeous!

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Dr. Sobel was running a bit late ( I think it was because Betheny Frankel was in the next room. Proven by her Instagram story!! )

While I was waiting, his nurse put numbing cream all over my face. The timing actually worked out perfectly as , by the time Dr. Sobel came into the room, I couldn’t feel a thing!

Dr. Sobel came into the room and immediately put me at ease. He could not be any kinder. He listened to what I was looking for (turning back the clock of course!) and explained the procedures. 45 minutes later I felt completely rejuvenated! I didn’t get all the of the procedures that I had hoped for for 2 reasons… 1. I had a budget and 2. the other procedures required more than one visit. So.. I’ll list below what I did and didn’t do and what I will definitely be doing in the future! (If you have had any of these , or others, please let me know in the comments!)

What I did:

  • Botox in my forehead, around my eyes and in the bands on my neck.

  • Fillers in my cheeks and my jawline

  • Silicone to plump my earlobes ( my son had ripped out my earring when he was a baby and there is hardly anything left!)

What I didn’t do(and what is on my list:

  • Fraxel laser

  • Sublime skin tightening

Overall, I am very pleased with the results and I will be visiting Dr. Sobel again soon! (I’m writing this one week post procedures. I’ll give it a few more days to kick in and post pics!)

They say nothing lasts forever …dreams change, trends come and go, but friendships never go out of style.
— Carrie Bradshaw

1:30pm: Lunch and shopping with my dear friend and stylist Gayle Perry . Gayle and I met over 22 years ago in NYC. She is one of those friends I can go a long time without speaking and never question our friendship. We met for lunch and picked up right where we left off. Then we went shopping! She took me to one of her favorite boutiques and helped me pick out the perfect dress for Mother’s day brunch.

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4Pm : Back to the airport and headed home…

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SHOP MY NEW YORK CITY STYLE!

{ some of the items/colors are sold out so I linked what I could find. I also added options for getting the look at a lower cost! P.S. When I really am on a mission to find something I always search Selfridges in London!)





Vegas Suite Life: This is How We Vegas!

Vegas is the ultimate couples’ destination any time of year. My parents live in Vegas so I’ve been there more times than I can count. Whether you visit in the summer, or over New Year’s Eve, there’s so much to see and do in the vibrant city.

THE HOTEL

 

Once again, the Aria Resort & Casino did not disappoint! 

Not only did it not disappoint, it exceeded my expectations!! We booked a Sky Suite  at a great rate! { I found a discount code at offers.com } Upon arrival at the airport we were greeted by a chauffeur who whisked us away to a Cadillac limo! 

The Sky Suites have their own entrance and their own check-in area and 24/7 lounge access {complete with coffee and pastries in the a.m. wine and cheese p.m.} We checked in and were told we were upgraded to a penthouse suite! It was the most glamorous room I have ever been in! 

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The Sky Suites also have their own Sky Pool with poolside food and cocktails and extra comfy chairs! 

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The Aria was simply fantastic, I can see why their slogan is "This is how we Vegas!"

 

THE FOOD

Las Vegas is such a fabulous dining town! Every time we go I scour Chowhound for the latest and greatest dining experiences. 

{ p.s insider tip... for great steak, fabulous wine AND a great deal.. go to Charlie Palmer Steak for their "cut of the week." You have to ask for it, your server won't volunteer it! $58 for dinner and unlimited wine! }

This trip's picks: 

Joes Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab - Located in the Forum Shops at Ceasar's Palace {if you're taking an Uber, get dropped off at the Forum Shops entrance. If you get dropped off at the main entrance or the casino entrance you will have a veerrryyy loonng walk!} The food was great and the service fantastic! 

Old Homestead - While the steak was very good, it was just steak. If you're looking for a great steak and a great dining experience, go to Charlie Palmer's
{ see note above}

Sushi Samba   - This restaurant was the hit of our trip. We were a party of 6. We asked the waitress to pick food for us and every item was absolutely delicious. We had two bottles of wine and the waitress asked if we wanted to switch to Sake. I had never tried it so she proceeded to bring me two samples and educated me on how it is made. 

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ACTIVITIES

Can you even say you've been to Vegas if you don't see a show? Absinthe was the pick for this trip. It was good. The acrobatics were incredible but... it was very crude. I didn't mind the un-politically correct humor but the rest was.. too much. I recommend the Michael Jackson One show     we saw it on the last trip and it was fabulous! 

 

So, while there are certainly no shortage of yoga studios in Las Vegas { Yoga Sanctuary , Modo Yoga and many others } I decided o try something new. I discovered Shine Alternative Fitness  while searching for a handstand class.  Shine was a quick Uber ride from my hotel and has daily handstand classes. It was my lucky day as no one else had signed up for the class so I had a private lesson. And the bonus? The teacher was a Cirque de Soleil performer! The studio offers anti-gravity yoga {a.k.a. arial} , pole dancing classes as well as some beginner classes. At the time of this writing, there's a Groupon! Grab it while you can! 

SHOP MY VEGAS ESSENTIALS

Travel packing cubes are a must-have travel item for me because they keep me organized.  It’s so much easier to pull out a packing cube and grab an item than dig through everything in my luggage!

Foldable Ballet Flats Stash a backup pair of foldable ballet flats in your bag and never be left hobbling in heels!

Black Jumpsuit A jumpsuit in classic black is super easy to pack, great for day with flats and a denim jacket, or dressed up with heels and a metallic clutch for night.

Weekend trip to Beaver Creek

THE HOTEL

My husband had a meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Because we are such procrastinators, the hotel was sold out at the meeting rate by the time I called. There were still rooms at the exorbitant rack rate but who would pay that?!? So I called the meeting coordinator and she was able to get us a room at a reasonable rate at The Osprey

The hotel was nice. Plenty of room for 5 people. We arrived at 10 at night (after a hellish drive from Denver) and there was no bellman/woman to be seen. The lifts were literally right outside the door and the location was perfect!

 

YOGA

I got a massage, a one hour yoga class and a glass of champagne at Vail Cascade on Travelzoo for $109!  What I didn't know was that Vail Cascade (Now know as Talisa) was under construction and not actually open and therefore.. no restaurant and no food! My plan was to get there, after taking a bus from Beaver Creek, and have a leisurely breakfast before my spa day. Well, you know what they say .."The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry" right? So, thankfully, I had an RX Bar in my bag (which , by the way is THE BEST snack bar). I have to admit I was pondering the adage "if something seems to good to be true..." as I looked around and thought "now I know what they were offering a deal!" 

 

The first day, I took a class at the Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt . That class was just OK. It was a typical all-level tourist class. It was me and two other students who had never done yoga before. Now, I can easily fit it to any class. The problem came when the instructor said she had to leave early and we were on our own for savasana. (for non-yogis reading this, that is the final resting pose.  A final meditation.) It was clear she wanted, or had to be, somewhere else.

The GREAT class (and my great massage) was at the Aria Spa & Club (attached to Vail Cascade). The class was mostly locals and was a true vinyasa class. The instructor, Aislinn,  was warm and knowledgeable and lead us through a challenging and evigorating class with of course, a guided savasana. 

The whole place needs some TLC. It is definitely showing signs of age (aren't we all!) and needs some remodeling too. But... The pre-service lounge area was cozy with a fireplace and an assortment of teas (and champagne!) I can't say enough good things about my masseuse. She asked about any ailments and injuries and also asked if I needed to use the restroom before my massages (yes, always a yes. I'm sure my mom taught me that!) I told her I was having some trouble with my knees and that if she knew any tricks to feel free to try them out. She did and explained to me what muscles might be responsible for some of my pain. 

So, overall, while I was initially though I would "get what I paid" for, I really got MORE than I paid for. Great, yoga, great massage, champagne and an RX bar by the fire. Can't get much better than that!

NOPE. I DIDN’T SKI

I retired from skiing a few years ago when I got sick of hearing my kids say "come on mom! we always have to wait for you!"  They have been skiing since they were barely potty trained and therefore much more advanced. They have significantly more fun skiing with my husband and I get some me time. It's a win-win. ( P.S. skiing is expensive!! I am saving a lot of money by not skiing and just going shopping and to the spa. For some reason, my husband doesn't agree with that though!)

Yes, I am there to shop, do yoga, and eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wifi to go! (no more complaints from teenagers!)

We were planning our trip to Aruba so I called Verizon to inquire about using our phones there. "sure" they said. "$10 per line per day." Cha ching! 5 phones, 7 days, $350 for them to play on Snapchat? No way! Then I found this gem. 

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I rented two of them thinking that when the kids went on excursions, they could take one and I would also have one so we can stay in touch. It worked perfectly! Actually better than I had anticipated. No one wants their kids to be sick on vacation. My son got sick on the second day. All he wanted to do was sleep. So, we left him in the room (He's 13, I'm not leaving babies in the room!) with his wireless unit (yes there was wifi at the hotel but it was terrible!) and I took one to the beach with me. We were able to stay connected. Priceless! 

Here's the link if you are interested GET YOUR TEPPY HERE (and yes, I get a commission if you rent or buy one but I wouldn't pitch it if I didn't believe in the product.) Feel free to email or message me with any questions.

 

Renaissance Aruba Private Island

Forget Disney... Renaissance Aruba's Private Island is THE most magical place on earth!

An aerial view of the private island source: Marriott.com

An aerial view of the private island source: Marriott.com

This 40-acre tropical paradise is truly paradise. These are the only private beaches on Aruba, and they are only accessible to guests of the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino. No worries if you are not staying at the hotel. Day passes are available! While they are pricey ($99), the way I look at it, if you would spend $100 + on a massage or a round of golf, then $100 to relax on a secluded beach surrounded by wildlife is well worth it!

The island is about a 10 minute complimentary water taxi from the main hotel in Oranjestad. When you arrive on the island, you are not only greeted by a smiling face welcoming you to the island but also by giant iguanas! 

Boat ride to the island

There are two beaches, one for families and one for adults only. The family beach (a.k.a Iguana Beach) has a restaurant and a Red Sail sports facility right on the beach where paddle boards and beach toys are available for rent. 

Photo Credit    Jacob K   .

Photo Credit Jacob K.

The swimming area is a sheltered cove which protects the beach from the open seas. The water is crystal clear blue and the sand feels like you are walking on cotton!

The other beach is Flamingo beach where 6 flamingos frolic in the water. You can have a flamingo literally eating out of the palm of your hand! If you are looking for a more "party" atmosphere, Flamingo beach is for you!  There's a bar and a DJ and they do allow topless sunbathing (I didn't do that but my teenage son enjoyed the view ...insert eye roll here!) 

There is so much to see on this island I don't think I spent 5 minutes on my lounge chair! There are hammocks suspended over the water with pelicans swimming below. 

On the end of the peninsula separating the two beaches is the spa cove. {  Photo Credit    Jacob K   . }

On the end of the peninsula separating the two beaches is the spa cove. { Photo Credit Jacob K. }

Of course, the highlight of my day was that I was honored to have the opportunity to teach a beach yoga class at sunset. 

My kids have never been to Disney. They can go there one day with their own families. What #RENARUBA offers is a respite from commercialization, technology, and junk food! No long lines and no cotton candy. Sorry Mickey. 

"Vidantahhhhh"

This was our second stay at Vidanta property. The first was Nuevo Vallarta. This time we were in Riviera Maya.  I rented through VRBO from an owner who had platinum status. Platinum status is the way to go! Regardless of which status you have, the rooms at the Grand Luxxe are like luxury condos. We were in a master villat wo-bedroom with two-and-a-half baths. It had two king-size beds, two Jacuzzi tubs, sprawling terrace with a plunge pool, a separate private deck, gourmet kitchen, two living areas with sleeper sofas, and four LCD TVs!

 

Or platinum status gave us access to the private beach as well as VIP golf cart transportation. Basically, the platinum wristband gives you VIP access to anything and everything you could imagine.

The beach sand itself is not rocky but the entrance to the water is. Another guest told us that the beaches near the other buildings are much smoother. However, I wouldn't trade the beach beds, lounge chairs and platinum beach service!

Grand Luxxe Riviera Mayo Platinum Beach

Grand Luxxe Riviera Mayo Platinum Beach

Adults Only: Las Vegas

Where we slept:

Aria Las Vegas

Where we ate:

Carbonne
Herringbone
Todd English PUB

I'm a big fan of adults only getaways. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids ..but, with a house, 3 kids, 2 dogs, a cat,  and a turtle, some adulting is mandatory in my book. I am grateful that my husband has many opportunities for business trips that I can tag along on! This time, he had a meeting at the Aria. We have never stayed there before and the reviews on Tripadvisor were quite good. As it is typically done, the bulk rooms were reserved run of house. I reserved a standard king room through the meeting organizers. Upon our arrival, there were no king rooms available. I spoke to the manager on duty , Jonathan. He apologized and confirmed that there were indeed no king rooms available so,  he gave us a $100 food credit. While this was a nice gesture, when you're on a kid-less vacation , it's not ideal to sleep in separate beds ...umm right? The manager then told us to check back the next day to see if anything else was available. The next day, not only did we get a king room but in the Sky Suites! It was a beautiful room with upgraded beds and bedding (much better than the first night in a standard room!) There was a lounge exclusively for the use of Sky Suite guests with complimentary coffee and pastries in the morning and wine and cheese at night.

While my husband was working, I got to play with my mom sister and grandma who live in Las Vegas full-time. One of my must do's when in Vegas is a liquid lunch. They bloody Mary's at The Todd English P.U.B are to die for! On Saturdays and Sundays till 2pm, they offer a "Farm to Table" bloody mary menu that allows you to completely customize your bloody mary with various mixes, garnishes, house-infused liquors and more. We're talking about an impressive number of customizations here with everything from habanero vodka to a lobster garnish. But if you really want to go all out, the real show stopper is the "All About Mary." Coming in at $35, this thing is a beast and includes, well, pretty much every garnish you can think of on top of a classic bloody mary. Yep., THAT was our brunch!

The Sky pool was very crowded but very comfortable. It is quite noisy though. It is adjacent to the "liquid Pool" which has a live DJ.

Dinner at Carbonne: The food was great (table-side Caesar salad was fabulous!) and the service was great. What we couldn't understand was the choice of loud music playlist. It just didn't work and when we asked the waiter he said "yeah, this is was the owner wants. We don't get it either". We felt like we were in Jonny Rockets and the servers should be on roller skates. Hate to say but we wouldn't recommend it or go again because of that.


To cap off our great getaway, as a Sky Suites guest, we were given complimentary airport transportation in a Cadillac limo. We have been to LV many times and have mostly stayed at the Wynn Tower Suites. The SS beat the Wynn with the amenities.

Adults Only: Miami

Where we slept:

Fountainbleau

Where we ate:

Scarpetta - Fontainebleau Miami Beach
A Fish Called Avalon

Where I Yoga'd:

Yoga Journal Live
 

 

We live in a small-town in Southeast Minnesota. Well, I guess it's not a small town to sound but to me, having lived in New York city, it's a small town. It's small, and it's cold, and there are certainly no Yoga Journal conferences here! One of the perks of my husband's job is that he can pretty much select where in the world he wants to go for a business conference. So, when I saw the Yoga Journal Live event in Miami I asked if he could find a meeting to go to at the same time and we could go for the weekend. The plan was that he would go to his conference and I will go to mine. It was a win win!  We stayed at the Fountainbleu in Miami where his meeting was. The yoga Journal event was about 30 minutes north in Hollywood.

I love the history of the Fountainbleu. My husband's parents had stayed there in the 50's. It's very glamourous!  This hotel is located in the quiet end of Miami Beach but still a short taxi ride from the action in South Beach. We had an ocean view room with a king bed (320 sq. ft.). The hotel has everything; fine dining, various pools to choose from and a beautiful staffed beach. I think my only complaint is that the pool (and the pool bar!) closed at sundown. I asked for a drink about 15 minutes before they were closing and the server never came back!

Scarpetta: Overall, this was an impressive meal with attentive service - and a gorgeous setting!

A Fish Called Avalon: If you want to feel like you have stepped back into the art-deco era and dine on fabulous food while watching vintage cars go by this is the place! We arrived slightly before our reservation and started on a bottle of wine at the bar. The bar is tucked into a corner but still comfortable. I had reserved a table outside (when you live in Minnesota you ALWAYS reserve a table outside when traveling somewhere warm!) and while it was a bit crowded, the service was excellent and the food superb!