Casa Madrona Hotel and Spa

Casa Madrona

I just got back from dropping my son off at University of Missouri. He’s a freshman, and it’s a 101/2 hour drive from Birmingham, so I honestly thought today was Tuesday. It’s Thursday (as you know), and I am trying to cheer myself up from being sad that he’s gone, so I wanted to share one of my favorite newest, coolest travel finds in Sausalito perfect for girlfriends, family and romance. Happy Thursday Travel!

A look inside Casa Madrona Hotel in Spa  It’s more amazing in person!

Ice Cream Travel Guide

Black Forest Ice Cream

It’s the heat of July, and that means one thing – ice cream! Check out my ice cream travel guide with these ice cream recipes from 4 renowned hotel chefs that are far from being just vanilla. Black Forest Ice Cream (above) is courtesy of Pastry Chef Brittani Szczecina, Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa. Enjoy this recipe and the other three selections.

1. Peanut Butter & Beach Plum Jelly Ice Cream from Executive Chef Daniel Kenney, Sea Crest Beach Hotel – Cape Cod, Mass.

Yield: 1 quart of ice cream

½ cup organic sugar

3 organic eggs

1 cup organic whole milk

¾ cup organic peanut butter

¾ cup Cape Cod beach plum jelly

¾ cup condensed milk

½ cup organic heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla beans, fresh from pod


1.  In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until thick, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

2. Pour milk into a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Gradually drizzle the hot milk into the eggs while whisking vigorously. Then pour the whole mixture into the saucepan.

3. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Do not boil.

4. Remove from heat, and whisk in peanut butter. Allow to cool slightly, then whisk in the sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream and vanilla beans.. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

5. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Fold in beach plum jelly when mixture is still soft, then transfer to a container, and freeze until solid.


2. Banana Split from Executive Chef Caleb Lara, Harbor View Hotel – Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Yield: Makes 1 dessert

1 scoop vanilla bean ice cream

1 scoop chocolate ice cream

1 scoop strawberry gelato

1 banana, sliced lengthwise

Dark Rum Pineapple Sauce (recipe below)

2 tablespoons Italian cherries in liqueur

Freshly whipped cream

1 waffle cone, broken into pieces

Dark Rum Pineapple Sauce

1 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup dark rum


1. Make the pineapple sauce by simmering all the ingredients together until a glaze forms

and the alcohol cooks off.  Let cool before serving.

2. Arrange the ice cream ingredients in a platter (ice cream, banana, Italian cherries) and

 drizzle with pineapple rum sauce. Top with freshly whipped cream and waffle cone pieces; serve immediately.


3. Rhubarb-Mint Ice Cream from Executive Chef David Haick, Whiteface Lodge – Lake Placid, New York

Yield: 1 QT

2 cups rhubarb puree

1 liter heavy cream

14 each fresh egg yolk

2 cups sugar

½ cup fresh mint


1. Heat heavy cream until 180 degrees. Add mint and steep 10 minutes. Strain through chinois.

2. Combine yolks and sugar and mix until ribbon stage. Add warm cream. Bring to a thick consistency or until 185 degrees.

3.  Add rhubarb puree, and combine well. Use a Paco Jet machine to continue the process. Serve with fresh fruit.

6 Must Resorts for National Yoga Month


September is National Yoga Month, and here is a list of the 6 relaxing destinations to enjoy and channel your inner yogi. From Mexico to New England, here are 6 must resorts to put on your list!

 Tower23 in Pacific Beach, California is a luxury boutique, oceanfront property in San Diego, is excited to announce a brand new partnership with lululemon athletica, La Jolla for National Yoga Month. Throughout the month of September, Tower23 will host Sunset Yoga Sessions every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. on the boutique hotel’s Tower Deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean. After achieving yogi bliss, guests are invited to enjoy healthy cocktails while mingling and watching the sunset at the hotel’s signature restaurant, JRDN. Space is limited and reservations are recommended. Donations are encouraged, with each session sponsoring a different cause:

For more information on Sunset Yoga Sessions, visit:

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Keystone Resort , Keystone, CO offers mountaintop yoga with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains. The mind-body practice begins with a scenic gondola ride to the top of Dercum Mountain with breathtaking views of the 10-mile mountain range and clean, clear air. Then, a certified yoga instructor leads the discussion of the benefits of yoga along with an hour-long class for an unforgettable experience that refreshes and rejuvenates the spirit, body and mind. Good through September 13, 2014; beginning at $25 / person


Vanderbilt Grace, the historical mansion turned luxe boutique property in Newport, RI, offers Full MoonYoga on the roof of the property. The class will be offered at midnight during each full moon for $15 on September 8th. The experience of yoga in the open air and under the full moon helps guest deepen their breath and connect to nature. Vanderbilt Grace includes 33 rooms and suites, and sumptuous spa and two restaurants including Muse by Jonathan Cartwright.

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Mayflower Grace, a Relais & Cheateaux New England Getaway nestled on 58 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and woodlands in Washington, CT, offers full moon guided meditation and yoga on full moon days from April to October. The property includes an award-winning 20,000 sq. ft. spa, newly refreshed rooms and two restaurants including the new fine dining restaurant by Chef Jonathan Cartwright, Muse.

  • Full Moon Guided Meditation:  Let us take you on a restful journey as we welcome Grandmother Moon.  Surround yourself with the scents and sounds of the night world in this totally unique, deeply relaxing, multi-sensory journey.  Comfortable clothing suggested. Complimentary to in-house guests on night of full moon.  Private session available for $110, plus tax and service charge. 45 minutes. From 7pm.
  • Moon Salutation Yoga: Please join us in welcoming the full moon with Chandra Namaskar, the Moon Salutation.  This beautiful, rejuvenating  ritual is appropriate for all levels. Complimentary to in-house guests on night of full moon.


Rancho La Puerta, Tecate, MX is the original “fitness resort” and spa welcomes some 140 guests each week to its 3,000 private acres of gardens, mountains and meadows in Baja California, Mexico. All facilities and land are for the exclusive use of guests who come for an entire week, Saturday to Saturday, or partial-week stays of three or four nights. It’s a unique escape for women and men offering over 80 fitness classes including TRX, yoga, pilates and advanced hiking trails as well as spa treatments and therapeutic sessions. In addition to fitness and spa experiences, the Ranch offers daily lectures and workshops to inspire guests. Yoga first soared in popularity at Rancho La Puerta and throughout North America almost simultaneously. Although there were many sources of new yoga programs in the United States in the mid-20th century, leader Indra Devi (whom many credit as being the most influential yoga teacher of the time) was at the Ranch as well as their sister spa, the Golden Door. She even opened her own yoga retreat center next door to Rancho La Puerta. Rancho La Puerta offers a variety of yoga classes including Restorative Yoga, Yoga/Fundamentals Level One and Two, and Yoga Sculpt.  In addition, Specialty Weeks at the Ranch are offered year-round, featuring visiting guest speakers, talented performers and workshop leaders—authors, politicians, musicians, artists, MDs and other leaders in their fields — to present afternoon learning experiences and evening lectures. The Ranch also offers unique fitness retreats covering a wide range of exercise specialties led by fitness enthusiasts from all over the world. Examples include:

Yoga for Health and Wellness in September 2014 – A series of yoga classes offering yoga for insomnia, low back pain, digestion and more. Guests will learn about the common tips for a better night sleep, increase mobility and manage pain, and how to keep the body flowing.

Iyengar Yoga in October 2014 – The series will start at the guest’s level of ability and build from there. Through a systematic progression of poses guests’ abilities will develop over time, encouraging confidence and commitment.

Yoga for Every B.O.D.Y. in November 2014 – This dynamic mother and daughter have been co-teaching yoga, meditation, and guided hikes in Aspen, Colorado, where both reside, for the past 10 years. They have been featured in Forbes Magazine, Aspen Peak Magazine, Yoga Journal, Gaiam Catalogues, Healthy Planet, and Elephant Magazineamong other publications. River (ERYT-500) is a third generation yogini, who blends her dance, GYROKINESIS® exercise and somatic therapy with an alignment-based vinyasa flow that caters to all levels of practitioners. She has been teaching dance and yoga for over 18 years.  Shayne has a background in Rolfing, massage therapy and Iyengar Yoga, in which she has integrated a therapeutic approach that makes yoga accessible to all ages and body types. Join Yoga for Every B.O.D.Y. and witness your practice flourish and evolve no matter what your level of experience is.

GlowFlow 27

THE MODERN HONOLULU, Honolulu, HI  just announced their next date for their Glow Flow Yoga event as part of the hotel’s Modern Yogi series. This is the event that took place in the hotel’s popular nightclub (frequented by the likes of RiRi) which features a ceiling covered in 40,000 lightbulbs. Aside from the black lights, the venue will be packed with neon painted yogis doing their best asanas.

Inside THE MODERN HONOLULU’s exclusive ADDICTION Nightclub, yogis can experience a modern take on the traditional yoga class with Glow Flow Yoga Event on Saturday, September 13, beginning at 6 p.m. with a welcome reception followed by yoga at 7 p.m. Glow Flow Yoga hosted by THE MODERN in partnership with Power Yoga Hawaii is a black light yoga class where yogis get zen by painting their faces with in glow-in-the-dark paint for a yoga experience unlike any other. Tickets to the event are $30 and are available for pre-sale only at:

Why to Travel To Keystone Colorado

Keystone Colorado

As the snow continues to melt and spring fades into summer, Keystone Resort officially kicks off the season June 13 with a variety of outdoor adventures designed for families and friends who want an authentic Rocky Mountain getaway. With temperatures rarely exceeding 75 degrees and opportunities for summer entertainment available around every corner, guests at Keystone Resort can play, stay and explore while enjoying an effortlessly healthy and active vacation. Here are just a few reasons to travel to Keystone Colorado this summer:

Women Mountain Biking at Keystone

Active Outdoor Activities

Planning a vacation that gets family and friends moving is easy at Keystone. Whether guests are ready to tackle a 2000 calorie burner hike or seek new adventures with a “Bike 101 Downhill Mountain Bike Clinic,” active adventures are available daily on-and-off the mountain. Also, with two world-class golf courses, indoor and outdoor tennis facilities and challenging mountain roads perfect for running, walking or biking, Keystone offers outdoor pursuits designed for any active lifestyle. I am ready!!

Serenity in the Mountains

For those looking to escape the hectic pace of everyday life, Keystone offers a variety of peaceful wellness opportunities devoted to mind, body and spirit. Whether partaking in a mountaintop yoga class at 11,640’, stand-up paddle boarding on Keystone’s five-acre lake, horseback riding through the Arapahoe Nation Forest or hiking among aspen groves, the resort’s breathtaking mountain vistas and pursuits are meant to inspire and excite while guests connect to the more important things in life. Sounds so amazing!!

Indulge and Refresh

After a long day of fast-paced adventures or channeling ones inner Zen, Keystone guests can visit the resort’s spa featuring over 10,000 square feet of amenities including a relaxation room, an outdoor heated pool, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, a eucalyptus steam room and a dry sauna, providing hours of peaceful serenity. Also, treat deserving muscles and melt stress away with specialized treatments such as a bliss facial and massage journey or coco-luscious body wrap with the Keystone Spa’s professional and experienced staff. Yes please!

Food to Nourish and Invigorate

After a day well-spent participating in a number of health-minded activities, prepare to sit back and enjoy a signature cocktail or health-conscious meal. Boasting three AAA four-diamond rated restaurants, award winning chefs and après decks with spectacular views, Keystone offers culinary experiences that are the perfect complement to any activity-filled day. Plus, Keystone’s Chefs are proud to provide meals that utilize locally-sourced proteins, fresh produce and are always created with the finest natural ingredients. Whether enjoying Colorado brews on the Village patio of 9280’ Taphouse, cocktails and appetizers river-side at the quaint Ski Tip restaurant, which ranks among Open Table’s Top 100, or savoring a local game-inspired meal at the historic Keystone Ranch, the resort’s culinary offerings are a palate enticing experience. And with such action-packed days, savoring a delicious dessert can be a well-deserved treat.

Rest and Relax at an Affordable Rate

With more than 800 accommodation options, Keystone offers lodging for every size group and budget. Reconnect in a comfortable condo with the “Rocky Mountain Getaway” package and receive incredible rates when staying five or more nights, or create new memories with friends and family when booking the “Choose Your Own Adventure” package for discounted lodging and à la carte activity options—perfect for shared experiences and individual adventures. Whether staying in the heart of River Run Village, or escaping to a creek side condo, guests will enjoy amenity-packed options complete with full kitchens, barbecues, decks, balconies and hot tubs with mountain views. Plus, with any two or more night stay Keystone lodging guests will receive “Play for Free,” including free scenic lift tickets for children 12 and under, a free guided hike, a free yoga class and free nine holes of golf after 4 p.m.


Where to Find My Royal Detox in Paris

Paris anyone? At Le Royal Monceau Rafflesm Paris it’s not a question of drastic diets, or exhausting gym programs – the word is wellbeing, energy, and gentleness. The “My Royal Detox Program” at Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris is tough to beat. Also check out their Easter holiday in Paris special by clicking here. I want to go! BUCKET LIST!


–          Detox Breakfast Buffet in the Michelin starred restaurant La Cuisine OR lunch at the Long Bar with a My Blend by Olivier Courtin-Clarins salad and a Royal Booster smoothie

–          Pilates class OR Yoga class with private teacher (1 hour)

–          Exotic Cleansing Body Wrap at the Spa My Blend by Clarins with a private therapist (45 min)

–          Day membership to the gym and the swimming pool of the Spa My Blend by Clarins

–          Offer valid from 7am to 8pm Monday to Thursday, and from 7am to 5pm on Fridays (not valid at weekends).



–          One night in a Studio room for two people

–          Detox Breakfast Buffet in the Michelin starred restaurant La Cuisine for two

–          Pilates class OR Yoga class with private teacher (1 hour)

–          Exotic Cleansing Body Wrap at the Spa My Blend by Clarins with a private therapist (45 min)

–          Unlimited access to the gym and the swimming pool of the Spa My Blend by Clarins

–          Complimentary Wifi


Located on the prestigious Avenue Hoche, only steps away from the Champs-Elysées, Arc de Triomphe and elegant Parc Monceau, Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris is ideally located for guests to fully experience the rich and vibrant atmosphere of Paris. Let me know if you get there before I do! Also, if you want to go, I can book this trip for you! Message me for details. Big news coming…

New Hotel Opening in Chicago: Tuesday Travel

What’s new in Chicago? Check out the new hotel opening in Chicago– the Kinzie Hotel (20 West Kinzie Street). Opening in February 2014 in the heart of Chicago’s bustling River North neighborhood, this hotel reveals an urban exploration design scheme inspired by Chicago’s rich history and landscape displayed throughout this upscale, boutique property.

The design project, led by Gettys Design Group Chicago, was inspired by the city’s first settler and renowned explorer, John Kinzie. All elements from branding to design pay tribute to Kinzie’s historical role. Vintage imagery of 19th century Chicago maps and compasses are subtly displayed throughout guestroom wall coverings, paying tribute to the hotel’s exploratory namesake. The navigational branding also speaks to the hotel’s tagline, “Chicago Starts Here,” encouraging guests to explore the city as John Kinzie once did in the early 1800s.

Both the lobby and common areas feature artwork commissioned by local artists, including a gallery component, displaying interpretations of Chicago’s urban landscape. Contemporary sophistication is seen throughout the hotel’s public areas, as bold navy blue and cool grey colors splash the corridor walls, boasting deep tones on one wall side and lighter accents on the other relating to the city’s architecture, lake, and modern Chicago. For more information see  Kinzie Hotel.

Winter Travel Idea Reynolds Plantation: Travel Tuesday

Is it Friday yet? My 3 kids and I are looking forward to this weekend. We are heading back to Reynolds Plantation, one of our favorite southern destinations. It’s a great getaway with the kids or with your special someone any time of the year. It’s beautiful anytime of the year. From Thanksgiving week to New Year’s Day, there are many holiday family experiences to enjoy at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation. This year’s holidays will be filled with nostalgic traditional activities including roasting s’mores, ice skating, decorating gingerbread houses, breakfast with Santa, savoring special seasonal fare and much more. The resort’s extraordinary Spa treatments, New Year’s Eve partying and invigorating outdoor activities along Lake Oconee will round out a truly memorable winter escape.


Fire & Ice Package

Available November 24, 2013, through February 16, 2014

  • Overnight accommodations in a resort-view guestroom
  • Unlimited ice skating
  • Valet parking for one vehicle per night
  • Breakfast for two in Georgia’s Bistro
  • S’mores turndown amenity
  • Starting at $349 weekday or $369 weekend (Friday or Saturday) per night, exclusive of tax
Breakfast with Santa Package

Available November 29, December 6, 13 & 20, 2013

  • Overnight accommodations (one or two nights) for four in a resort-view guestroom
  • Admission to Breakfast with Santa, includes breakfast gratuity
  • Starting rates: $399 Friday for one-night stay only; or $339 per night Friday and Saturday, two-night stay required, exclusive of tax


Lovely Lakeside Ice Skating Rink Opens for the Season

From November 24, 2013, through February 16, 2014, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. & 4 to 8 p.m.

On Sunday, November 24, and for the third year, the beautiful 6,000-square-foot Ice Rink at the Pavilion opens at 10 a.m. Invigorating exercise and fun are topped off with hot cocoa or hot apple cider. Skating is complimentary for resort guests; non-resort guests price is $20 for children 12 and under; $30 for adults.

The Ritz-Carlton Lodge Gingerbread House Display

Daily from November 27 through December 30

A traditional favorite, the resort’s annual gingerbread masterpiece is a one-of-a-kind, life-size Gingerbread House created from gingerbread, sugar, candy and lots of creativity and talent. Children of all ages will love the intricate Christmas-themed spectacle created by the resort’s expert pastry chefs.

Gingerbread Decorating Workshops

Available Saturdays; November 30, December 7, 14 & 21 at 2 p.m.

The season’s sweetest treats are featured in these workshops. Would-be pastry artists of all ages are invited to build their own distinctive gingerbread houses festooned with frosting, marshmallows, gumdrops and peppermints. $60 per house, plus tax and gratuity. Space is limited and reservations are required; please call 706-467-7059.

Exclusively for Resort Guests:

Santa’s Segway Experience

Available daily from November 27 through December 29 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. by reservation

A truly exciting way to explore the scenic beauty of The Lodge’s lakeside setting is on Santa’s Segway – each decked out with seasonal decorations, lights and antlers. $135 per rider for 90 minutes, limited availability. Riders must be 12 years or older. Reservations are required at 706-467-7130.

Linger Longer Holiday Express (complimentary)

Available for rides daily from November 28 through December 29 at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

All-aboard The Linger Longer Holiday Express! This is a favorite way to see the beautifully decorated resort grounds.

Story Time with Mrs. Claus & Dooley, The Lovable Resort Mascot (complimentary)

Available on November 30, December 7, 14 & 21 at 1 p.m.

The most lovable lady and the most irresistible dog, the resort’s chocolate lab Dooley, will charm little ones with classic Christmas tales on Saturdays throughout the holidays. Also, Santa’s Helpers will be delivering holiday surprises. (No reservations required.)

“St. Nick’s Flicks” for the Family (complimentary)

Available on November 30, December 7, 14 & 21 from 2 to 6 p.m.

Holiday movies, made more delicious with freshly made popcorn, are screened on Saturdays during December. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Ritz-Kids “Elves in Training” Night Out, Fridays and Saturdays

Available November 29 through December 21 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Santa’s elves certainly know how to craft the best toys, and they’ll be here to help little elves construct their own creations. $75 per child includes activities, materials and dinner. Space is limited and reservations are required; please call 706-467-7130.

Elf Tuck-ins with Special Treats, Saturdays in December

Available on November 30, December 7, 14, 21, 22 & 23 from 7 to 10 p.m.

Children will be treated to a reading of “T’was the Night Before Christmas” in their guestrooms at bedtime and receive a copy of a Santa-autographed book. Milk and cookies will complete the evening before they’re snuggled into their beds for a good night’s sleep. $35 per room. Space is limited and reservations are required; please call 706-467-7130.

Lodge Family Bingo, Holiday Edition (complimentary)

Available on November 30 and December 7, 14, & 21 from 8 to 9 p.m.

Families play this old-time favorite with a holiday time twist.

Situated within Reynolds Plantation on 30 acres of stunning shoreline property on Georgia’s Lake Oconee, the resort features access to 99 holes of championship golf designed by Bob Cupp, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Rees Jones. Additional highlights include: 251 beautifully appointed rooms with resort and lake views; a 26,000-square-foot, full-service spa and fitness center, restaurants and array of outdoor activities ranging from fishing, swimming, waterskiing, jet skiing, paddle boarding and wakeboarding to horseback riding and hiking. For more information and reservations, please call toll-free (800) 826-1945, (706) 467-0600 or visit

Grand Slam Baseball Package at Ritz Carlton Downtown Atlanta

Okay baseball fans, I have to tell you about the coolest summer travel idea. Check out the the Grand Slam package at The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta. If you’re an Atlanta Braves fan, even better. The overnight package includes a game ball with an authentication code so guests may learn the date the ball was used in play in the 2012 season, as well as extra touches for an exciting baseball experience. I want to take my two boys!  Read on for more information:

Grand Slam Package, starting at $269*

  • Deluxe accommodations for one night
  • Authentic MLB game ball used in an Atlanta Braves game
  • Official 2013 Atlanta Brave Souvenir Program
  • Peanuts, Cracker Jacks and Coca-Cola placed in the guestroom
  • American Breakfast for two in Atlanta Grill
  • $25 in stadium dollars to spend at the game
  • Overnight valet parking

This package is offered through October 31, 2013, subject to availability and cannot be combined with any other offer. Advance reservations are required; rates do not apply to groups. Rates listed are per room, per night, single or double occupancy, and exclusive of taxes, gratuities and other charges unless otherwise noted. Tickets to an Atlanta Braves game are not included. Find out more at Ritz-Carlton Downtown Atlanta.

Summer at Casa De Campo

One resort that is totally on my radar is Casa De Campo. This 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic is known for its fabulous golf, food and accommodations. I have heard rave reviews from fellow travel journalists and hope to travel there one day soon. This season Casa De Campo offers an array of summer savings creating memorable Caribbean summer vacations for all ages. Check them out:

For a “Sporting Life Summer,” available for booking until Aug. 31, families enjoy 45% savings and a $150 resort credit applying toward adventurous outings:

  • Golfing on Pete Dye-designed courses
  • Horseback (or donkey) rides along tropical trails
  • Tennis matches on a bluff overlooking the Caribbean Sea
  • Skeet/trap shooting in the Dominican jungle (for kids 12 and older)
  • Additionally, “Casa Summer Escape” accommodates families with complimentary all-inclusive vacations for two (2) children 12 and younger, starting at only $201 per adult, per night until August 31th. Unlimited horseback riding and non-motorized beach water sports is included
  • Guests can also receive a complimentary third room night with “Extended Casa Stay” when booking two nights before August 31th.
  • See more information at Casa De Campo