Hilton HHonors and Saving with the Great Getaway

Are you ready for your next trip? Guess what? Booking a vacation just got simpler. Now through September 30, 2013, Hilton HHonors is encouraging travelers around the world to start planning their next Great Getaway with great rates at 10 top hotel brands and save up to 25% off stays in Middle East and Africa, and up to 20 percent off stays in Asia Pacific when booking within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio. The portfolio includes Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations.

Whether the next trip is a family affair or girl’s weekend, The Great Getaway makes getting away easier. And, with more than 3,900 properties in 90 countries there is a vacation destination for everyone. Here are some of my top picks:

1. Boca Raton Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort –Boca Raton Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort has reigned as an icon of elegance for more than 80 years. Today, the resort remains faithful to its glamorous past, while radiating vibrant energy and offering infinite amenities to every type of guest. Experience True Waldorf Service with authentic, personalized attention that consistently meets your luxury travel needs from the moment you book your trip through the time you depart.

2. Hilton Hawaiian Village® Waikiki Beach Resort –Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort stands oceanfront on iconic Waikiki beach and offers a one-of-a-kind vacation atmosphere with lush tropical gardens, waterfalls and exotic wildlife throughout 22 acres of island paradise. A dynamic array of leisure options include 16 dining outlets, a “Village” destination resort concept unique among other Hawaii properties, six pools including separate pools at Ali’i Tower® and Kalia Tower®, the world- class Mandara Spa, Camp Penguin children‟s program and daily activities ranging from Hula to snorkeling lessons to the Waikiki Starlight Luau. Need I say more?

3. Embassy Suites Houston – Downtown–This award winning hotel overlooks Discovery Green Park and is only steps away from the Houston Center Business District, the George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston Astros Minute Maid Park, Houston Rockets Toyota Center, the Houston Pavilions entertainment complex and the Park Shops. Location, location, location!

4.  Hilton Garden Inn Hotels Manhattan –From the hustle and lights of Times Square, to the chic neighborhoods of SoHo and Tribeca, to world famous shopping in Herald Square, guests of the four Hilton Garden Inn hotels in Manhattan are close to everything the Big Apple has to offer. NYC, let’s go!

5.  Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando –Whether in Orlando for business or to visit Walt Disney World®, SeaWorld® or the Kennedy Space Center, you‟re assured of the warmest Florida welcomes at this all-suite, residential-style Universal Studios Orlando hotel. Shuttle service is available to nearby theme parks, and if the kids still need entertainment families can shoot hoops on the outdoor sports court or challenge each other to a game of air hockey in the hotel‟s game room. This is calling my name!

6. Elara, a Hilton Grand Vacations Hotel – Center Strip –At the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, Elara is connected to more than 170 shops in the Miracle Mile, adjacent to Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and just across from City Center. Luxurious studios and one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom suites capture the cosmopolitan vibe of Las Vegas while delivering the quintessential comforts of a residential retreat. Guests may soak away stress at the exotic pool and whirlpool spas or share a Great Getaway with friends by taking refuge in a private, poolside cabana. Sounds like heaven to me.

7. Conrad Beijing–Conrad Beijing features rooms designed with an oriental influence and floor-to-ceiling windows that offer picturesque views of Tuanjie Lake Park, the iconic CCTV building and Beijing skyline. And, to accommodate today‟s luxury traveler, guests can customize details of their hotel stay before and during each visit with Conrad Concierge – the first service-enabled technology that is completely integrated with hotel management systems across the brand‟s portfolio. I’d love to check that out!

Also enter to win the Hilton HHonors Travel Great Getaway Giveaway HHonors.com/Giveaway.

I was compensated by Hilton HHonors for this post, but all opinions are my own.

Evo Conference: Learning, Sharing and Being Inspired

Last year, I was lucky enough to win a ticket to my first ever social media conference: Evo Conference in Park City, Utah. I was lucky enough to go, and I was wowed. This year, I paid my way without a second thought. To say the least, it didn’t disappoint. Many have said that Jyl Pattee and Rachel Herrscher “made lightening strike twice.” The picture (above and thanks to Paul, Sandy’s husband) was taken while I was on the Alpine Slide at Park City Mountain Resort. Okay, what was this guy doing? I was freaking out that he was so close.

Evo, for me, is about learning, feeling inspired, seeing old friends and making new ones. I was lucky enough to meet Jennifer, (above) from Piggies & Paws, last year. She is one of the most incredible women with such a great heart that I have ever met. This year I made so many new friends. I love this group (below) with SandyAggie, and Maria. All are hugely talented food and entertaining bloggers. I am honored to know them in person, and I have a feeling we will be lifetime friends. Thanks to Maria for sharing her photo with me.

And while this wasn’t a food conference, there were two more amazing food workshops. We learned photography tips from Helene from Tartlette, one of my most favorite blogs (see below). She is so nice, humble and genuine.

Our lunch with Helen and the Chefs of the The Canyons was held at Lookout Cabin, a picturesque setting overlooking the mountains.

Just a look at our view from our table (below).

Our meal was scrumptous as well, and we learned how to make all of the fabulous recipes from the chefs. This shrimp dish was just one of the mouth-watering appetizers we learned to make at home.

Day two, I went to the other food workshop which was held at the Waldorf Astoria resort sponsored by Bushs Beans with Todd and Diane from White on Rice Couple. I was lucky to meet this dynamic duo last year, and words can’t describe their talent, generosity and gift of teaching. Here’s Todd in action.

We learned more about food styling from Diane, and then we each got to practice our styling. I couldn’t get over Jennifer, from Baby Making Mama, with her beautiful baby on her back while shooting away with her camera on the ground. Now that was inspiring!

She was a delight to photograph (even though I was supposed to be food styling).

I must admit that one of the scary parts of the trip is when we took a gondola ride up to another mountain to the closing party sponsored by Together Counts. It got really windy, and while in mid air, the gondola stopped for what seemed like an eternity. It was frightening to say the least. When we got to the top, we suggested maybe taking the edge off. So we did. I had so much fun with Annalise, Kelly and Lisa, three of the most talented and genuine people I have ever met. Extra thanks to Kelly (second to the left) for her incredible hospitality. We met at the conference last year, and this was the second time I have seen her this year.

So what else can I say about EVO? I learned so much at this conference about social media, business, entrepreneurs, women, friendship, community and more. I have never met so many creative and passionate people in one place. There are so many others I want to mention who I don’t have photos of but Jen, Gena, Jenn, Alisa, Paul, Cameron, Marla, Diana, Jamielyn, Missy, Evan, Melissa, Heidi, Helen and Dara are just a few. I just feel lucky to have had this experience. It brings a smile to my face. Just look at it with Aggie (below) and Maria (bottom).