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.

Raindrops over Santa Fe

Last week, I went to Santa Fe for work. I’m hoping this is one of my last work trips because traveling with an extra load (a la a baby bump) isn’t the most glamorous. I stayed at La Posada de Santa Fe and took a few pictures one morning when it was raining. New Mexico rain is the best. It smells the best and always cools down the city. That, or I’ve been living in Arizona way too long and don’t know what a real rainstorm is anymore.

I can’t say La Posada de Santa Fe is the most luxurious hotel I have ever stayed at, so don’t let the Luxury Collection sign on the door fool you: This is not a traditional luxury resort. But if you’re looking for an authentic Santa Fe experience, this is the place for you. The adobe guest rooms, the history, the kiva fireplaces and the art (oh, the art! It’s all over the walls) … it’s a very charming resort.

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort

La Posada de Santa Fe Resort

SIP Coffee and a Starwood Video Sneak Peek

The last few days have been a whirlwind. I was working with Full Lock Media (and some other extremely talented vendors and friends) to create a wedding short film to promote SPG Weddings. The past couple of days have been long, but I have enjoyed every second of the creative process. I now understand why they call it a ‘production’ – it takes a village. A very talented village to create a video.

spgweddingsvideo

One of the scenes called for our couple to meet at a coffee shop. My friend Teri (whose company helped create the script) found this really cool coffee shop in south Scottsdale called, SIP Coffee & Beer House. We had such a blast filming at this location.

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee is fairly new to Arizona (about 6 months) and is one of those coffee shops you go to in the morning and want to just camp out all day. I guess that’s a good thing, because SIP is also a Beer House, serving up live music and brews in the afternoon.

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP has great coffee (provided by Cartel Coffee) breakfast sandwiches that I’m still thinking about and a really cool, eclectic vibe. My favorite nook in the coffee house is an area right when you walk in … it reminds me of “Central Perk” in Friends.

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

Well done, SIP. You have created a very cool, downtown coffee shop that leaves everyone feeling like they are enjoying a cup of joe with familiar faces in a neighborhood hot spot.

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

Please enjoy this little photo tour of SIP and a behind-the-scenes glance into one scene from our SPG Weddings video shoot. I can’t wait to share the finished project with you!

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

True story. When Kapil, Jameson and Lee were not looking, I ate part of their breakfast sandwich. What? We were all close friends by this point and it looked so tempting. Plus, they were busy.

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

SIP Coffee and Beer House | Scottsdale Coffee Shop

Ironic that the guys huddled around this particular sign? They act like they didn’t plan it, but I think they had an idea. What a day this was! Special thanks to Full Lock Media for always being so professional, collected, creative, and such a joy to work with!

Nice to Sea You, Florida.

Last week took me to Fort Lauderdale, Florida where everyone was there for Spring Break. I was there for work. It was a great leadership conference, probably one of the best I’ve attended. But if we’re being honest here, work travel is taking its toll on me.

I was gone Monday – Friday and that left my husband to keep the house in order. Watching two kids by yourself is tough stuff. I am lucky to have a supportive husband and a job that I love, but I’m head-over-heels happy that I don’t have any travel planned in the coming weeks. I can be home with my family and just relax. Ahhh … I’m really looking forward to that.

On a more positive note, the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort & Spa is the perfect spot for a vacation. It’s on the beach, literally. All you have to do is cross the street and you’re there. Two buildings down you’ll find the W Fort Lauderdale (gorgeous views, great steakhouse 954) and the Bliss Spa. We ventured outside of Starwood for dinner one night at the Ritz bar (meh) and amazing food at Casablanca Café (you must go!).

Westin Fort Lauderdale Ocean View Room

Westin Fort Lauderdale WelcomeThe ocean view room and the welcome amenity took my breath away. This hotel surprised me at every turn. I’m not one to take food shots, but I couldn’t help it, their food was so good.

Steak 954 at W Fort Lauderdale W Fort Lauderdale GuestsAfter 5 hours on a flight, a few of my coworkers and I went to Steak 954 at W Fort Lauderdale. We sat overlooking the ocean and passed this super cool jellyfish aquarium on our way to the patio. Dinner was fantastic and if you’re wondering 954 stands for their area code.

Westin Fort Lauderdale Sunrise

Westin Fort Lauderdale Sunrise Pool

 The sunrise was magical. I took a photo every morning; some from my guest room and some from the pool deck.

Westin Fort Lauderdale Ocean View

Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort Westin Fort Lauderdale View

The view during the evening wasn’t bad either. I took these shots during the only free 5 minutes I had. After our meetings and before dinner.

Westin Fort Lauderdale DiningCheck out those mozzarella shooters. I’m telling you, I have never had better banquet food. This hotel sure knows how to impress guests with food.

Westin Wine Blending

Megan and Stephanie

After our first day of meetings, we had a wine blending contest where (ahem) my team won. The prize was a free night stay in Napa Valley and a complimentary wine tasting. Not too shabby …

W Fort Lauderdale Views W The Store Fort Lauderdale

W Fort Lauderdale GirlsWe found ourselves having cocktails at W Fort Lauderdale on our last night in town. Then, we hit up W the Store to find Kelsey a present. I spotted this wall full of green clovers right outside of the valet stand. I am a sucker for little design touches like this.

Westin Fort Lauderdale Resort Food

Westin Fort Lauderdale MeetingThe food at Westin. Did I mention it was good? From crème brûlée to apple and pecan pies. I think I gained 4lbs during this trip.

Westin Fort Lauderdale Meetings

They even turned one of the ballrooms into a ’50’s diner. How cute is that? My other fellow meeting goers will appreciate this. Because who wants the typical ballroom breakfast. The servers even wore 50’s attire and they wrote us checks for our meals. It was darling and I could tell a lot of effort went into it.

west floridawestin floridaAnd that’s a wrap. It was a great conference and a great experience and, like I said earlier, I am so thankful to be home.

Networking with women in business

I joined a women’s networking group at work. I really think us girls have to stick together. Our first meeting involved many powerful women at Starwood giving us the inside scope on what made them successful. The meeting was very inspiring.

And who could forget the delicious mini Sprinkles cupcakes that greeted us at the door. I think this is why I love being a woman in business. Men don’t bring cupcakes to their meetings. Which brings me to a good point.

Girls, throw out all of those business books that tell you to not bring candy to work, act like a man, etc. I’m finding the reason so many women are successful is because they forced a seat at the table and ran intellectual circles around the men who hired them.

That’s the secret. Spend more time outperforming and not over thinking.

sprinkles cupcakes

The Working Mom Hat: Montreal Meetings

Once a year, the North America Marketing and Brand Management team at Starwood Hotels & Resorts gets together for a 4-day conference. The conference is held in a different city each year (we are in the travel industry, after all). The conferences are a lot of work, but also a great way for us to connect.

At every conference we incorporate an event or outing that is indigenous to the city we are in. And, in addition to hearing some of Starwood’s leaders speak, we incorporate an outside speaker. We have heard from the Chief Marketing Officer of Pottery Barn, Nike and now – Cirque du Soleil! Talk about walking away with a new perspective on Cirque and the marketing machine they have built.

We went on a private tour of the Cirque du Soleil headquarters – I saw where they design each custom-made costume and wig, where they train their acrobats, the performers makeup studio and so much more! We got up close and personal with private lessons too. I learned how to trapeze, juggle, tight rope and even got my makeup done by professional Cirque artists. Then, Cirque held a private cocktail reception in their lawn just for us.

We watched the sun set on a beautiful day and I felt so thankful to be a part of an organization like Starwood. The conference continued with great speeches from our Senior Leadership Team, dinner at L’Atelier d’Argentine, drinks at W Montreal and meetings at Le Sheraton Montreal.

Here are a few photos from the week.

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The Travel Hat: Kauai Botanical Gardens

Our last night in paradise kicked off with a hosted reception at the Kauai Botanical Gardens in Princeville. We missed most of it because I was still recovering from a 7 hour boat ride that ended just hours before. But, we made it just in time to board shuttles to our next destination in the garden.

We drove to the bottom of the hill where we were greeted by a pretty tent and a local, Hawaiian band. We ate – oh, how we ate – some great food. We listed to amazing music, by Taimane Gardner, an electric ukulele player. She was amazing – she even played some of my husband’s favorites – Pink Floyd.

We mixed and mingled with other Starwood folks and then a select few of us closed down the after party. Hey, when we don’t have kids around, we’re known to be a little cooler.

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40813_1015Celia and Christy – two of my favorites in Starwood.

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Ryan and I, after the sea sickness wore off. Man, that was rough.

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After she played one note, we were on our phones downloading her music.

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40813_1071More entertainment.

40813_1179The after-party.

40813_1181Yep, we hung out here until it closed. So?