Wedding venues that may surprise you

Know anyone getting married? As part of my day job, I have been leading the wedding marketing plan for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. In doing so, I feel like a bride all over again. What’s not to love about the wedding industry – the decor, the flowers, the frills and thrills.

I’ve been researching the industry for the past 5 months in preparation for our plan to launch and I have to tell you, we sure have some of the best wedding venues out there. Some of the destinations below are no-brainers (hello … St. Regis Bahia Beach) but some may surprise you. I’ll give you a peek into some of my wedding research and some of my favorite Starwood wedding venues.

The St. Regis Bahia Beach -Astor Terrace Pavillion

The St. Regis Bahia Beach, Astor Terrace Pavilion

The Westin Cancun Beach Wedding Beach Wedding at The Westin Resort, Cancun

The Westin Chicago Northwest

The Westin Chicago Northwest

The St. Regis Aspen Destination Wedding

The St. Regis Aspen Resort, Mountain Weddings

Sheraton-Kaanapali Point Wedding at sunset

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

W Vieques Island Retreat & Spa - Wedding reception

W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island

Le Meridien Bali - Celebration Pavilion or Wedding

Le Méridien Bali Jimbaran

The Westin Hilton Heaad-Beach Wedding Ceremony

The Westin Hilton Head, South Carolina

The St. Regis Princeville Resort -Bay Terrace Reception

The St. Regis Princeville Resort – Kauai, Hawaii

W Austin-WET Dining AreaW Austin, Texas

Four Points Destin-Wedding setup

Four Points by Sheraton Destin-Fort Walton Beach

W Scottsdale Wedding

W Scottsdale, Arizona

The Travel Hat: Austin Restaurants

Since my brothers live in Austin, they were able to point us in the right direction when it came to restaurants we would love. We wish we had more time to experience the city, but by the looks of our restaurant list, we did pretty well. Here is a peek into the many restaurants we visited – in the order in which we indulged.

1. Taverna, downtown Austin
Great little place where we enjoyed brunch with my mom and my brothers. It was Sunday and they had the World Cup soccer game on (finals) and $1 mimosa’s and $1 bellini’s. Delish.

2. Lambert’s barbeque
Our first dinner in Austin didn’t disappoint. At Lambert’s, we ate downstairs (jalapeno brocoli, beef brisket and smoked chicken) and then headed upstairs for a post-dinner drink. We sipped on wine and beer as we listed to the sounds of a great jazz trio.

3. Amy’s Ice Creams
Spencer told us we had to try Amy’s Ice Cream (it’s a local favorite). No kidding. I ordered the “Buttery Apple Pie with Graham Cracker Crust”. While in line, the employees would pick people at random, then have them back up against the wall and hold out their cup. Then, they would throw a spoonful of ice cream at them. If you caught the ice cream in your cup … it was free.

4. W Austin, Trace Restaurant
I’m assuming Trace was responsible for the amazing in-room dining at W Austin. We ordered fruit, bagels, eggs and french pressed coffee to start our day.

5. Bess Bistro (Sandy’s Restaurant)
If you go to Austin, you have to check out Bess’s Bistro. It’s Sandra Bullock’s restaurant and the hype lives up to the name. The hostess greeted us with a smile and a question, “Do you want a table or booth, darlin‘?” I turned to Ryan and giggled, “She called me darlin’!” The restaurant smelled amazing, the decor was “darling” and the food was great. 

6. Austin Java Cafe & Coffeehouse
After two hours of walking around and seeing the sights, we stopped for a little java. Ryan checked a local map while I sipped on a skinny vanilla latte and lusted over these cupcakes in the window.

7. Barchi Sushi (Happy Hour)
We were happy to find amazing sushi in downtown Austin. The service was great and the sushi rolls were even better. My husband’s favorite? The $1.50 sake bombs. He had four! (Proof you can take the man out of college, but you can’t take the college kid out of the man).

For the next part of the trip, I missed out. I was attending a Starwood conference so Ryan explored the city solo. Here is where he ate along the way.

8. The Mighty Cone (food truck)
Fried chicken, friend avocado, fried pickle. He loved. Sounds horrible, but he said it was great.

9. Hey Cupcake, Food Truck in Austin 
All I know about this stop was Ryan ate a perfectly plump “red velvet cupcake” and I was extremely jealous. He said he had to eat it fast because it was hotter than blazes out there, and this food truck didn’t come with any shaded benches.

10. Alamo Drafthouse
Ryan and Spencer went to Alamo Drafthouse for dinner and a movie. They had dinner, beer and watched Harry Potter. Ryan ate a “Blue Buffalo” – blue cheese, buffalo wing sauce burger. Now, that sounds good.

11. Texas Chili Parlor
Ryan walks into the Texas Chili Parlor and the music stopped. Figuratively. He said he felt out-of-place, but quickly grabbed a seat at the bar and felt a little more at ease. This place has been an Austin staple since 1976 so he had to try it. What did he eat? Spicy chili, of course.

I promise, we did more than just eat. We went out to the bars, checked out the sights, caught a show at Austin City Limits. I’ll prove it with more photos later. I hope you are enjoying your weekend. We sure are!

The Fashion Hat: It’s Fashion Week in NYC!

Forget about football, fashion week has kicked off! 
The much-anticipated Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week started on September 9, 2010 and runs through September 16, 2010 (bye-bye Bryant Park … helloooo Lincoln Center). I’m pretty excited because every year I anticipate the amazing pieces Michael Kors will put down the runway. I can’t lie. I’m a big fan. As my previous boss, I have a special bond with anything Michael. Plus, one of my favorite hotel brands, W Hotels will be there to unveil its new Global Glam Collection, which is inspired by W’s latest locations, W London, W St. Petersburg and W Vieques. It’s going to be a stylish week.
Let the games begin!