We Arrived in San Diego!

THE US GRANT San Diego Hotel

After a quick airplane ride on Thursday, we landed in sunny San Diego for my brother’s wedding. As we were waiting to check into The US GRANT Hotel, we met up with my brother and his fiancé in the hotel lobby. We were the first wedding guests to arrive so we were able to have these two love birds all to ourselves for a few hours. I soaked in every moment of that!

celestial ballroom at THE US GRANT HOTEL

Before heading out to grab lunch with these two, we took a quick sneak peek at the Crystal Ballroom where they were going to be getting married a few days later, and the black/white bridal room where the wedding party would hang out in between pictures. My pictures do not do this room justice – its gorgeous and “so Shaun” as my friends & family would say.

Crystal Ballroom at THE US GRANT Hotel - San Diego Wedding

THE US GRANT Hotel San Diego - Details

Just look at those chandeliers! They were on the ceiling, hanging from the walls, everywhere. It made for such a dramatic effect. During the ceremony, they placed a gorgeous white runner down the aisle with rose pedals. The room illuminated “love” and was truly perfect. Let’s make that PERFECT (all caps!).

The bride, Sabrina, just glowed. First off, her hair was perfect (and it’s real!) and she looked like she was shining from the inside out. You could tell she was ready to marry this man. Kelsey & Colton were so excited to see their Uncle Shaun and I was really excited to have made it to San Diego without having a baby on the plane. <insert sigh of relief>

More photos to come.

Photo Tour of The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort

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St Regis Bal Harbour Miami Resort
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St. Regis Bal Harbour, Miami Resort

St. Regis Bal Harbour, Miami Resort

St. Regis Bal Harbour, Miami Resort

St. Regis Bal Harbour, Miami Resort

Work took me to The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort for the past few days for a luxury marketing conference. I was visiting the resort for the first time, but I had high hopes, as it is known in our company for being one of the best properties in the Starwood portfolio. Well, the resort did not disappoint (it reminded me a lot of The St. Regis Mexico City – seen here). From the moment you walk in you are captivated by the mirrors and the interior design. It’s sophisticated, sleek and oh-so Bal Harbour.

You can feel, touch and smell opulent luxury around every corner. Purposefully, there is not a lobby. Instead there is a reception desk and a St. Regis bar & lounge for gathering. The resort was designed to give everyone an ocean view room and a patio (thank you, architects!). The rooms are spacious and full of thoughtful amenities (meaning, you don’t even need to open your own drapes, there is a button for that).

J&G Grill makes the best breakfast and they are also open for dinner. I recommend their soda – they make their own – and their truffle pizza, it was delicious. By the way, what is with J&G restaurants and their pizza? Remember this from J&G Grill in Mexico City. Speaking of great food, the pastry chef at the resort is Antonio Bachour. He is renowned for his pastries as being a work of art – and rightfully so, he is truly a master at his craft. You can sneak a peek at his work in his new book – here.

Every night a colleague and I would walk down to the ocean and stick our feet into the water. It was a full moon every night we were there (lucky us) and made for memorable views. If you are in the Miami area, make sure you visit the St. Regis. If you don’t end up staying here, come and enjoy a Bloody Mary in the bar, dinner at J&G, browse their on site art gallery (perhaps a pre-dinner massage at Remède Spa?) and then end the night Oceanside with your toes in the Atlantic.

*Make sure you say hi to Hilda. She is truly the most (and I mean this out of the bottom of my heart) hard working, special women they have on their wait staff. She catered to our every need and was always three steps ahead of us. I can’t say enough great things about Hilda and the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.

Sightseeing in the Big Apple

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new york city window shopping
In a New York Minute

I had 3 hours in between meetings to explore New York City. So, I did what any girl would do with limited time … I shopped 5th Avenue! I started at 55th and 5th and made my way up to Tiffany & Co., Apple, FAO and then over to Central Park, The Plaza Hotel, down to Bergdorf Goodman, then over to Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center. Then, I crossed the street to Saks Fifth Avenue before making my way to Louis Vuitton, Versace, and then back to The St. Regis New York.

Let’s just say I loved every single minute.

horse carriage rides in central park, NYC
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Horses, Central Park and a lot of Tourists

I’m not going to lie to you, there was a part of me that was willing to take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park alone. But then I thought about it a bit harder and decided against it. What? It looked so inviting and intriguing. And then there was this person dressed as the Statue of Liberty, standing on phone books and this moment happened. God Bless them.

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In and around Rockefeller Plaza

There is something so nostalgic about Rockefeller Plaza, even though I’ve never been here before. Ha! I think it’s because every year I invite this Plaza into my home with the Christmas Tree Lighting and holiday specials on television.

I went to the Top of the Rock to take some pictures, but there was an entire school (literally, 75 students) in line waiting their turn so I figured it would be a while before I got up there. The next morning, as I was blowdrying my hair and watching Jennifer Hudson perform on the Today Show, I thought … I could totally run down there right now and see her. I love being close to the action and New York City puts you right into the heart of it.

radio city music hall new york city

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The Shops (and hotels) along 5th Avenue

My boss would be so proud. I hit up every luxury retailer and stopped at some of the most influential hotels in the business. I don’t know what it is about The Plaza Hotel but I love this place (hello, Home Alone 2!). It reminds me of Christmas. The Plaza is much smaller inside than I thought it would be, but super charming all the same.

As a Retail major, I have a soft spot in my heart for good visual merchandising and retail displays. I stopped at every window and just admired the creativity in the windows. The stories people are able to tell through artistic expression and merchandising is amazing. But, let’s talk about the fact that there was a line wrapped around the building of Abercrombie & Fitch. A line! At Abercrombie? Not sure I understand that one.

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window shopping | NEW YORK CITY

window shopping | NEW YORK CITY

window shopping new york city

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the st regis new york hotel

Where it all Began

I ended my self-walking tour at St. Regis New York, where it all started. This was the very first St. Regis hotel built in 1904 and since it just went through a multi-million dollar restoration and redesign, I was so anxious to experience it first-hand. I am still pinching myself for the opportunity to have stayed here. Let’s just say there is an entire blog post dedicated to my pictures of this beautiful hotel. Here’s a little sneak peek.

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And then … (you still with me?)

Looking back this, I had no idea that I took this many photos. I am such a casual photographer. Meaning, I literally snap a photo of something I see without taking too much time to set the shot. I like to capture exactly what I saw, and how I saw it versus taking time to do staging. Here are some photos from my morning commute from The St. Regis New York to The Chatwal hotel (near Times Square). I was on my way to a day full of inspiring meetings around St. Regis and Luxury Collection 2015 brand planning.

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What I Learned

I had no idea how much inspiration and freedom I would feel while walking through the city. I was overwhelmed (in a good way) with all of the sights, sounds and people. When I first stepped out of the cab, I felt like a suburbia dork with my camera in tow, but I quickly adapted once I realized that anything goes here. You just have to stay strong, find your place and dive in head first.

I already miss it and I only got to see a small fraction of the entire place. There is so much more I want to do. Times Square, Meat Packing District, The Brooklyn Bridge, breakfast at Le Meridien Parker, shopping in SoHo, Upper West Side exploring, a Broadway Play. Next time I’m bringing Ryan because there is a sandwich at Carnegie Deli and a patch of grass at Central Park with our names on it.

Until we meet again, New York …

View my photo tour of The St. Regis New York

Le Méridien: Brand Design Refresh

Are you a marketing brand junkie? Or just someone who gets inspired by the places they travel. If you’re anyone of those, let me introduce you to the Starwood Brand Design team who reinvented Le Méridien’s identity this year.

From the brand’s color new palette, to the marketing copy, artistic photos and their fresh perspective on the ordinary (not to mention the actual design elements inside the property) – just watch this video and you’ll be inspired to travel to a Le Méridien hotel to see this stuff in action.

 

Don’t tell anyone (or do!) but my favorite part of the redesign has been their new perspective on the traditionally chic Parisian pastry, the éclair! Every Le Méridien has a signature éclair based on local influences and flavors. The éclairs alone will make you want to stop into the hotels!

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And then there are the hotels themselves. From my recent visit to our Santa Monica hotel to others that are on my bucket list – Bali, Bora Bora, New York, Atlanta, Paris – just to name a few. I think this is a Starwood brand you’ll want to keep your eyes on. Happy #TravelTuesday!

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The Life of Dual Working Parents

This dual-working parent thing is no joke. One minute you’re here. One minute you’re there. Your husband has to be your best friend and you have to work together to ensure everything stays in order and the kids don’t miss a beat.

I told Kelsey last night that I was leaving on another work trip. She got sad for about 32 seconds and I thought, Here it comes. How do I explain to her that mommy has to work just like Daddy does. Then, she turned to me and said, “Mom, can you tell me the story of Little Mermaid one more time?”

I love their innocence. In that moment, I was reminded that I probably miss her more than she misses me at this age. I love those kids so much. I’m in Aspen now. Instead of working inside the hotel lobby, I stepped outside with a glass of vino and my laptop and took the photo below. I’ll post photos from Disneyland soon and then Aspen. I promise.

If the kids and Ryan were here … well, then it would be perfect.

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The Travel Hat: Summer Vacation Deals

Traveling this summer? Starwood just launched new summer vacation deals for SPG members – book your summer vacation and receive 35% off rates plus complimentary breakfast. You have to be a SPG member to enjoy these great savings, but signing up for SPG is free! Check out the promotion here.

summer vacation dealAnd, while you’re traveling snap some photos and tag using hashtag #mysummerstory. You may be featured on the promotional marketing that Starwood is doing this summer!

This summer, we’re taking the family to The St. Regis Deer Valley Resort in Utah. It’s my mother-in-laws 60th birthday so what better place to celebrate? I’m even more excited because Kelsey and Colton are coming along for the ride.

You see the Funicular in the photo below? I think that is going to be Kelsey’s favorite part. That’s how you enter the resort. You park at the base and then ride up to the resort lobby. There is a Concierge there to greet you and gather your bags. Fancy. Fancy.

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st regis deer valley

I’ll also be in Canada for the first time. Montreal, to be exact. Assuming I can get my passport updated in time (yikes). I have only been married for 5 years and just now realized that I need to update to my new name.

Once I get there, I won’t care about the expense and hassle of a new passport, I’m sure of it. I’m staying at the Sheraton Montreal Hotel. Excuse me, Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel.

I’m really looking forward to adding these two great places to my summer story this year. Do you have any travel plans? Do tell!

Montreal local area

Montreal Hotel

Link to book on the promotion noted above found here.