Scottsdale has my ❤️ (Even when it’s cold and rainy)

Earlier this winter (or was it fall?) my boarding pass took me to Scottsdale. A favorite city of mine: laid back vibe, sunshine, desert landscape, no humidity, and sunsets only God could create.

I’ve only been to Scottsdale in July or August (don’t knock it to you try it. I’ve been summering in Scottsdale the last six years). On top of that, I’ve only stayed at one hotel, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale. Why mess with a good thing?

Well, business called, and I ended up at The Phoenician.

Phoenician Front

What I liked about the resort: service and location. Everyone was going out of their way to be helpful and welcoming. I was even upgrade to a decent view and was able to check in at 11am, no problem. Did it help that I was a Starwood Preferred Guest member? I’m sure it did. Either way, I really have to commend Mora at the front desk and Jacque the concierge.  Instead of looking at a parking lot. I had a view of the hotel’s cactus garden 🌵

Phoenician Balcony

Other highlights of the property include its art collection. They even have a piece purchased from the Vatican. There is an audio tour that you can take … maybe I’ll do that next time.

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And yeah, I got a “selfie” with a hawk. She was quite beautiful and kind. (They use the hawk on the restaurant patio to deter birds from eating your lunch.)

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Location:  I’m used to staying out in North Troon, which is about a 30 minute ride to some of my favorite restaurants. It was a pleasant surprise that this property was a less than a $10 Uber ride to Old Town Scottsdale. I spent my free afternoon wandering around—and met this super friendly horse named Charlie and the Charros cowboys.

Downtown Scottsdale

Lunch was had an old Favorite, “FnB” (James Beard Foundation Best Chef of the Southwest Nominee). I discovered this place just last August with my husband and couldn’t wait to go back. Devoured Peruvian spring rolls & permission salad. Wish my conference was caterer by Chef Badman. But it wasn’t meant to be.

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FNB Food

A few things I wasn’t thrilled about:

Being indoors. The hotel is a corridor hotel with long connecting hallways and escalators that take you down to the restaurant/ballroom/pool level, making you feel that you are in the land of endless conventioneers. (In fairness, I was a conventioneer—name badge and all.)

The weather. It was warmer in Washington, DC in November than it was in Scottsdale. The first day was decent but after that…. it was rainy and 55 degrees. And I mean pouring rain. Then it was cold. When the sun did come out many of my colleagues planned on hitting the golf course. Spent a few pennies in the pro shop–as shorts were not going to cut it. (I know it’s not fair to complain about the weather, but this is why I love going there in August. If it rains it for 20-30 minutes, and then it’s sunny and 100 degrees again. Perfect pool weather.)

Phoencian Morning

Grumbling aside, I did have that one sunny somewhat warm day.  I headed to Camelback Mountain. Views that are nothing like back east.

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On my last day, I hosted an early morning work reception back at The Phoenician. I will say again that service was great. And what fun chandeliers.

Event Room

Then I left and returned to DC where it was warmer in November than Scottsdale. 🙃

A Birthday Weekend at the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Washington, DC: the heart of American politics and power. But the city is not all government, museums and buses loaded with tourists.

One of DC’s Ritz-Carlton hotels is located in the heart of Georgetown, which combines a thriving nightlife with the historic charm of buildings from the 1700s. Within walking distance from great restaurants and shops, this was a great choice for our in-town getaway.

Planning/Reservations

Online reservation was easy. About a week out from our arrival, Elizabeth from hotel reservations personally emailed me to inquire about our stay. I took the opportunity to inform her of hub’s birthday and requested an early check-in. She said that they were fully committed the evening before but would do their best.

Impressions Matter!

We arrived pretty early (8:30 a.m.-ish) and the front desk manager greeted us at the door.

I really do like check in at this hotel. Danny brought us over to a desk to be seated. No standing in a line! So civilized–more hotels should adopt this policy.

Over the weekend, we saw the same front desk staff the entire time and were addressed by name. Really wonderful.

Danny mentioned hub’s birthday and immediately offered us mimosas. We had quite a late night before and declined. Still, he insisted on us having a complimentary breakfast.

Now to my favorite part of the hotel: the lobby, which would more accurately be described as “the living room”. It’s a wonderful warm space to relax, read a book, or grab a drink.

After our wonderful breakfast, the room was ready.

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Our room was located in the East Wing (which I preferred) on the 4th floor. We had a lovely view of Georgetown.

The bed was wonderful and the bathroom was spacious with separate shower and soaking tub. Asbury bath amenities were provided, including salts for the tub!
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Experiencing a Classic Hollywood Restaurant: The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel

When you hear the name Beverly Hills Hotel, most people immediately think of one thing: celebrities. While I wasn’t lucky enough to run into a celebrity while I lunched (because, really, you can’t just “eat” at the Beverly Hills Hotel!) at the Polo Lounge, the whole experience felt quintessentially Old Hollywood.

My California-based grandma joined me for this glamorous lunch during my long weekend in L.A., and we both agreed that this classic Hollywood landmark really lives up to its name. Here are my thoughts!

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What kind of restaurant is it? What’s the price point? 

The Polo Lounge offers classic American fare at sky high prices. Save this spot for special occasions!

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How’s it look? Describe the restaurant’s aesthetic, any notable features, first impressions.

It’s a classic beauty. The hotel is famous for its green and pink motif, and that doesn’t stop at the Polo Lounge. Green is much more prominent, with large circular forest green booths in the indoor seating area and plenty of matching cushions and umbrellas outdoors. We ate on the patio, which was beautiful. The umbrellas and trees overhead provided the perfect amount of shade. The entire area could have easily felt outdated, but it’s managed to hang on to an elegant and classic image. DSCN1398

DSCN1394 How’s the wait staff? Are they attentive, good with kids, fast?

The wait staff was great. All my boxes were checked: kind, funny, fast. No complaints here—not that I’m surprised!

Entree: how’s it taste? If meat, is your meat cooked the way you wanted?
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8 Products that Will Turn Your Bathroom into a Luxury Hotel Spa

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Staying at a luxury hotel and spending a day at their world-class spa sounds like the ultimate vacation. Sadly, not many of us will get to experience this more than a few times, if at all. Not to fear! With just a few products, it’s easy to transform your own bathroom into a mini spa, perfect for that one day when you just need to relax and forget the outside world.

The lovely ladies at Bellacara in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia helped us find just what we needed. Bellacara’s walls are lined with high-end products, from Kiehl’s to Clarins to Kevyn Aucoin, so we figured they’d know a thing or two about having a luxurious at-home spa day. Definitely check it out if you’re ever in the area.

Now on to the products!

M. Steves RHSO Power-Packed Reviving Exfoliator and Ultra-Nourishing Boost
When I asked the girls at Bellacara what they would suggest for an at-home spa treatment, this was the first thing they directed me to. Using these two products together pretty much gives you the same results as a pricy luxury facial—the exfoliator is even called a “facial in a jar.”

Fresh Black Tea or Rose Face Mask
I’m going to cheat and count two products as one since both are beautiful. Both hydrate the skin, only the black tea mask claims to have instant results while the rose mask emphasizes toning. But really, it all boils down to whether or not you like the smell of roses and are willing to shell out the extra money for the black tea mask (it’s $30 more!).

MaskerAide Sheet Masks
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly but equally effective option, the Bellacara staff were quick to sing these sheet masks’ praises. They’re only $5.99 a piece and come in a variety of options like “Weather Warrior” and “All Nighter.”

Fresh Sugar Lemon SugarBath Cubes
They’re sugar cubes. For your bath. These cubes aren’t just adorably whimsical, though. The brown sugar inside helps to hydrate the skin while a bicarbonate of soda creates gently exfoliating bubbles.
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