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Category : Hotels

The Springs at River Run Keystone Colorado Family Travel Vacation Lodging

The Springs Keystone Colorado

Keystone Resort Lodging

Keystone makes for one exceptional family ski vacation there is not doubt about that. The mountain itself will impress you and the kid friendly amenities and all the activities will keep your family very busy on and off the mountain. Keystone is also only about a two hour drive from Denver and very easy to get to which is another reason it’s a perfect choice.

When choosing your Keystone Resort lodging you have many options available, however the Mountain House neighborhood is a great option for families because of it’s proximity to the Ski & Ride school. We stayed at The Springs, which is a part of the Keystone Resort managed properties and one of the biggest benefits of staying within the Keystone Resort properties is when you book at least two nights, your kids ski free!

Kids Ski Free at Keystone

The Springs Keystone Resort Waterslide and Pool

The Springs at Keyatone Resort Condo Vacation Rentals The Springs Keystone Colorado Lodging

The Springs at Keystone Resort Colorado Hotels
The Springs, Keystone Colorado

The Springs at Keystone is located near the base of the Keystone Gondola and right next to the Keystone Ski & Ride school, which makes it very convenient for parents getting their kids to and from ski school. Keystone also has little red wagons to haul kids ski equipment back to the condos and there are storage lockers assigned for each condo in the garage, so you do not need to bring all that gear into the condo.

Another reason why the The Springs is so popular with families is the outdoor jacuzzi’s and the only outdoor pool with a waterslide! The pool is lukewarm but when it is -10 degrees outside it feels a bit colder. My kids loved sliding down the slide, swimming across the pool and then jumping into the hot tub. I didn’t want to do it, but they finally convinced me and so even I took the waterslide plunge!

The Springs is also just a short walk across a bridge that takes you right to the center of the main village. The Village is where you will find plenty of dining options, coffee shops, shopping, and a mini market. There is also a free Keystone shuttle that will pick you up and take you anywhere within the Keystone Resort as well so getting to the Village and the slopes is never a problem no matter where you stay!

The Springs Condo Kitchen Keystone Colorado Vacation Rental

The Springs Living Room Keystone Colorado

The Springs Condo Bedroom One Keystone Colorado The Springs two bedroom condo Keystone Colorado Vacation Rental

Inside the Condos at The Springs, Keystone Colorado

We stayed in a two bedroom condo and it was very nicely furnished, just as you would expect a Colorado mountain ski condo to be furnished and decorated. It was cozy and felt very comfortable, as if it was our own families condo. The kitchen was large and had plenty of seating for everyone, either around the huge countertop bar or at the kitchen table that had chairs and a long bench to sit at. The living room area had a large leather sofa that had a pull out bed, which is great if you have more than two children or are traveling with grandparents.

The Springs as a very nice lobby area for lounging around with a large fireplace, couches and even a pool table. They have separate playroom for smaller children and toddlers with a fun house, toys, books and games. There is a private theatre room too!  We stumbled upon this by accident and made the most of our discovery and immediately put in the move Elf and settled in for a lazy afternoon in the big leather chairs.  This might have been one of my favorite moments just because it was unexpected and such a sweet surprise.

The Springs is a luxury priced property but with all the amenities and conveniences it may be worth it to you and your family. The Keystone Resort itself has done an incredible job making Keystone very family friendly and staying at The Springs was really the icing on the cake!

Keystone The Springs at River Run Frozen RiverKeystone Colorado Top of Mountain Snow Fort
Disclosure:  A portion of my stay at The Springs was a part of a Media Stay with Keystone Resort for the purpose of a review. My opinions are always my own. I share this with you so it may help you decide on your next family adventure!

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For our winter family vacation we headed to the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado to do some snowboarding, but first we spent two fun filled days in Denver, which was just a enough to get a taste of this mile high city. We stayed at the Embassy Suites Downtown Denver and I have to say, this was the perfect location. The Embassy Suites is in the middle of it all and conveniently close to the 16th Street Mall which runs right through the heart of Denver.

Embassy Suites Lounge Denver Convention Center

Embassy Suites Denver Convention Center

Embassy Suites Downtown Denver

The Embassy Suites Downtown Denver is a great property for families because of their large one bedroom suites that have a nice size living room area that includes a large desk, which is great since my husband and I usually take our work with us when we travel. These suites also have a small kitchenette with a small refrigerator and sink. The bedroom has two queen size beds with modern and luxurious bedding with fluffy duvets. I loved the bed and had a hard time getting out of it.

What I loved about staying at the Embassy Suites was that they had a complimentary happy hour from 5pm – 7pm with some appetizers too. This cocktail reception was a great way to end after a long day of sight seeing and activities. The restaurant and lounge area is very large and has plenty of comfortable seating, a full bar and fireplace. The complimentary breakfast is also very nice and had plenty of options for all of us. It was a better breakfast buffet then other hotels I’ve stayed at that offer the complimentary breakfast.

Denver with Kids

When traveling to a city it always helps to have a local friend, they can give you recommendations and if it’s a good friend, they might even join you and take you on a little city tour!  My good friend and graphic designer, Aimee Giese of Greeblehaus lives in Denver and was the perfect person to show us around her town. I love having insider tips and hearing from a local what they love about their city. So what did we do?

Childrens Museum Denver Colorado Family Travel
Denver Children’s Museum

The Denver Children’s Museum is about a 10 minute drive from the Embassy Suites and very easy to get to. My kids love visiting Children’s museums and you know it’s a good museum when you can;t get your kids to leave. This museum was under construction when we visited but there was stil plenty to do!  Our kids loved the building the in the ball room and creating different mazes and tracks for the balls to go down. We also spent a lot of time in the bubble room, which is always a favorite! They also have a Backyard Room where kids can crawl through tunnels, dress up like squirrels or bunnies and play with animal hand puppets. And If animals are your thing you should also consider visiting the Denver Zoo, which is only about a 15 minute drive from downtown and has over 4,000 animals and is one of the best Zoos in the nation.

Union Station Denver Downtown

The Terminal bar Union Station DenverThe Kitchen Next Door Denver Union Station
Denver’s Union Station

The newly renovated Union Station just recently opened in July of 2014 and is one of the hot spots to check out in Denver. Not only does it serve as a major transportation hub but it is now a popular place to hang out, grab a drink and a bite to eat. In the Great Hall of Union Station is the The Terminal Bar where you can order and pick up a specialty drink or draft beer right from the window and then have a seat anywhere you’d like.  The Great Hall is a gorgeous open room with high ceilings and the center of it all. There are plenty of seating areas, couches and two shuffleboards.

We ate at The Kitchen Next Door for lunch. The Kitchen Next Door calls itself a community pub and specializes in fresh, organic farm-to-table food. It’s a casual atmosphere and a great place to grab a bite to eat and a drink. and they also have a great kids menu.

Rocket Fizz Denver Colorado

From Union Station you can start to walk down the 16th Street Mall and you will find even more dining and shopping options. A fun place to take the kids is Rocket Fizz, an old fashioned candy shop with an eclectic mix of candy from the past, flavored sodas and even some unique and hard to find candy from all around the world. We could not believe that there is bacon flavored soda with chocolate!

Kris Kringle Village Denver Colorado

Kris Kringle Village Denver Colorado Christmas Shopping

Kris Kringle Village Shopping Denver Colorado

ChristKindl Market

Right off of the 16th street mall was the ChristKindl Market, a small Christmas Village set up for the Holidays and only open for a few weeks during Christmas. The village has a European flair that includes a giant beer tent, which looked like Decemberfest inside!  You can shop the autheentic German beer steins, Polish pottery, glass ornaments, wooden toys and nesting dolls. You can also buy Austrian pretzels, Danish pastries and hot roasted nuts.  If you are visiting Denver when the ChristKindle Market is happening, it is a must see and do.

FREE 16th street MallRide

By this time if your kids are complaining about the walking, you can just jump on the free MallRide which runs the length of the 16th Street Mall and is free for anyone to ride! Which is nice if anyone from your group wants to go back to the hotel, and the Embassy Suites is just a block away. If you ride the 16th street MallRide train to the very last stop you will get off close to the Capital Building, from there you can continue to explore a little more of the city sights, political buildings and some unique sculptures along the way.

Denver Capitol Building

Denver DIY Walking Tour

I love to walk around cities and take pictures of the buildings, and and when you have a local leading you it’s even better!  My husband took my son back to the hotel but my daughter came along for this fun walk. We walked past the Capital building which has a distinctive gold dome roof and it looked gorgeous as the light on the city was changing from day to night. It was cold in Denver so the grass was not green and the trees were bare, but I actually loved the beauty of the bare trees up against these concrete buildings.

Denver City Buildings

Denver Government Building Travel

Downtown Denver Colorado Family Travel

Downtown Denver Chair and Horse Sculpture

Denver Art Museum Sculptures

Denver Art Museum

We stopped to look at the fun sculptures that are near the Denver Art Museum and take in the awe of the Art Museum building which is a sculpture itself.  We did not go inside the museum but if we had more time we would have liked to.  On our walk back to the 16th Street Mall and where we could jump back on the MallRide, the city was starting to get dark but had this illuminating glow from the street lamps and all the Christmas lights.

Denver Capital Building at Night

16th Street Mall Denver Colorado at Chirstmas Time

Cherry Creek Shopping

Anther place to mention is Cherry Creek which is Denver’s popular shopping destination. You can either go to the indoor Cherry Creek Shopping Center (which has a great indoor play space for kids) or walk Cherry Creek North. Cherry Creek North is outside and has blocks of unique boutiques and specialty stores like Paper Source, Sur La Table and Kate Spade. They also have plenty of restaurants to choose from and Syrup a popular place to grab some breakfast.

We were only in Denver for about 48 hours but we had so much fun. I highly recommend staying in Denver for a night or two before hitting the road to the mountains. This way you can get acclimated to the altitude a bit before going even higher.  You can also stock up on water and snacks or buy anything you might need before venturing up to the mountains. We really enjoyed staying at the Embassy Suites for it’s service and hospitality, large rooms and most of all it’s location.

Have you been to Denver?  What are some of your favorite things to do!?


Disclosure: I was given a two night stay to review this property. All my thoughts are my own.  I share this with because I love to travel and share tips on what to do with kids when traveling and the Embassy Suites is a great family friendly hotel.

 

 

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Blue Tree Resort Orlando Florida Pool

While visiting all the Orlando theme parks this summer we stayed at The Blue Tree Resort, which is one of the best Orlando hotel and condo style resorts near Disney World. We all know that if you are heading to Orlando on a family vacation things can get pretty expensive, so finding a great Orlando hotel that doesn’t break is essential. All of the rooms at the Blue Tree Resort are condo type rooms that have a dining area and a kitchen.  These types of rooms are great for family’s with kids, if you are staying for a week or more and want to save some money by making a few of your own meals.

BlueTreeResortBedroom

Great Family Vacation Condo

We booked this hotel stay through our timeshare company that has a trade in program, but anyone can book directly through the resort or on third party sites like Hotels.com or Tripadvisor.com.  You can book either a one bedroom studio which has a pull out couch for the kids or a two bedroom suite, which has a large master bedroom and a second bedroom with two twin beds. We ended up booking the one bedroom suite because the two bedrooms were already sold out.  They go fast in the summer, so book early!

We loved having the kitchen to make our own breakfast in the morning (I got my coffee instantly)and it was nice to make easy lunches for the kids and a few light dinners. We were also able to bring any food and drinks down by the pool, which is also so convenient and you don’t have to worry about paying $15 for a lunch for your kids.

BlueTreeResortLivingRoom

BlueTreeResortKitchen

BlueTreeResort2ndBedroom

Perfect Orlando Location

The Blue tree Resort is very close to Disney World and they even have a shuttle service to Disney World.  THey are also close to so many other Orlando attractions, mini golf and the outlet malls.  It is also walking distance to a few restaurants, a Walgreens and a Winn Dixie. We shopped at the Winn Dixie to stock up on water, snacks and fruit.  Both the Walgreens and the Winn Dixie also have large Orlando souvenier sections that will cost a fraction of the price then buying things at the theme parks.

Fun places to eat in Orlando with the kids!

Blue Tree Resort Kids Activities
Kids Activities and Amenities

The property has a small mini golf course, shuffle board, an arcade and a little market for buying some snacks. They also have a variety of kids activities throughout the day to keep the kids (and parents) happy. There is sand art, chalk art, decorating sunglasses, build a friend, movies and dance parties. There is also BINGO almost every day, my kids loved playing this with their Grandmas. They can win small prizes and even gift cards to some of the local restaurants. They also had $1 snow cones by the pool everyday.  Some of the activities cost a small fee but there are some that are free. The activities coordinator was super friendly and so nice to my kids and made all the kids and parents feel welcomed.

Not only is this a great budget friendly place to stay in Orlando and a central location but it was a nice place to come back to after a long day out at the parks. There are a few pools on the property that are open late into the night and there are a few jacuzzi’s to relax in too.  Some days you will want to just skip the theme parks and stay on the property to just relax by the pool and chill out. The staff was helpful and friendly and when we needed something for our room or had an issue it was taken care of right away.  We liked staying here so much that we ended up canceling our other hotel and stayed here longer!

This was a multi-generational trip and everyone was happy, something that can be hard to accomplish. I highly recommend the Blue Tree Resort for traveling families, extended family’s or large groups.

*This was not a complimentary stay and I was not given a media rate or any other discount. I share this with you because it is a great property for families vacationing in Orlando, Florida.

 

 

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Grand Cypress Hotel Orlando

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

A few weeks ago we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Grand Hyatt in Orlando and I cold not have been more impressed! If you are planning a family vacation and are searching for hotels near Disney World, then this is the place to stay. Not only is this the perfect location near many of the theme parks, but there is actually so much to do at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress that you may want to skip some of them and just stay and play at the hotel all day!

Hyatt Regency Pool with Bridge Orlando

The Hyatt Regency Pool and Waterfalls

The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress has essentially one gigantic continuous pool that is connected through a narrow river-like pool enclosed by a large cave with waterfalls which then opens up to a large pool that has a bridge extending across it. There are a total of twelve waterfalls around the pools and they also have a water slide that empties into an additional pool. For those of you with little toddlers they have a splash pad area as well. You are allowed to bring flotation devices into the pool and they have some for sale at the towel stand for purchase as well. The pool is definitely one of the things that impressed me the most at this hotel.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando Pool and Caves
The pool is open 24 hours and I highly recommend a night swim with the kids. The pools are lit up and the caves are even more magical at night. Inside the cave there are lounge chairs for people to get out of the sun and perfect for any napping babies or husbands;) Inside the cave is also where the fitness center is located, probably one of the most unique places to get a workout in I’ve ever seen. They also have a fire pit for roasting marsh mellows and making s’mores. They sell a s’more’s kit, or you can bring your own s’mores ingredients in yourself.

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Family Activities Orlando

Grand Cypress Water Activities Orlando Florida, hotels near disney world

Plenty of Family Activities

Since this hotel sits on 1,500 acres and there is a small lake there is plenty to do!  They have three jogging trails, tennis courts, and a pitch-and-putt golf course. They have two rock climbing walls, one for smaller kids and one for older children and adults. Down by the water there is a beach with lounge chairs, a volleyball court and tether ball. On the lake you’ll find paddle boats, paddle bikes and paddle big wheels! You can also take out kayaks and canoes. Throughout the day there are also a variety of kids activities to participate in; a scavenger hunt, feeding the ducks, sand castle building, and a treasure hunt.

Other kids’ activities that have an additional fee are sand art, mermaid class, the arcade and Camp Hyatt, which is a drop-off kids’ club. The kids’ club schedule can vary so you’ll just want to call ahead and make a reservation.

hotels near disney world, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando, mermaid school

The Mermaid Academy was an absolute must do for my daughter. It is an hour-long class and could not be any cuter. They do also offer shark fins for the boys to participate as well.

CascadesGrandCypressHotelFood

Dining Options

There is a very nice buffet-style breakfast each morning, but this is not included in your stay. Or you can go to the grab-and-go coffee bar in the morning to pick up pastries, fruit, yogurt, juice, chocolate milk and other lighter options. Cascades is the restaurant that serves lunch and dinner, we ate here twice and were very pleased with our meals each time. I loved my crab cakes and my husband loved his steak but you MUST order the s’mores brownie sundae, it’s pretty much sin in a jar.

There is the Beach Grill outside by the pool for your typical poolside sandwiches, burgers, fish tacos and kids’ meals. Hemingway’s is their fine dining restaurant on the property, if you can get away for a night without the kids then I would suggest this for a little date night.

hotels near disney world, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando
hotels near disney world, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando

The Hotel

The atrium of this hotel is beautiful and even comes with a hotel lobby ambassador, a talking parrot. The lobby has plenty of seating areas for you to lounge, grab a coffee and even get some work done. In the afternoon the lobby bar opens and you can grab a drink as well — and they have a late-night menu, too. The rooms are pretty standard hotel rooms with modern furnishings, we were on the 15th floor and had a great view of the entire property and a lot of Orlando, we even saw a few of the Disney fireworks from our room.

hotels near disney world, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando
I really can’t express enough how much fun my kids had and how much my husband and I enjoyed staying at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. When I vacation with my family I don’t want it to only be about the kids, I want to be on vacation too! This hotel literally has something for everyone no matter the age and is a fantastic place for a family vacation. I am already thinking of a reason to go back to Orlando just so we can stay here again! With so many hotels near Disney World, it can be tricky to find the one that’s perfect. We’re thrilled that we found this fantastic property!

So, where will you be staying for your next family vacation in Orlando?

 

All photos taken by me and should not be used without my consent.

Disclosure:  This was a media stay for me to review the hotel.  I was comped one night and given a media rate for the rest of my stay. This also included one dinner at Cascades.  All of my savvy thoughts and sassy opinions are my own. I share this with you because it is an exceptional property and I would absolutely stay here again.

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Mia Hamm: Soccer icon, philanthropist, mom

Mia Hamm has two Olympic gold medals, countless accolades and was named the Greatest Female Athlete of the Last 40 Years by Sports Illustrated in 2012. She may be a soccer icon, but she loves her current role as soccer mom. SheIn addition to raising twin daughters, aged seven, and a two-year-old son, Mia is committed to her charitable foundation, The Mia Hamm Foundation. Her foundation focuses on bone marrow research — she lost her brother to aplastic anemia, a rare blood disease — and creating more opportunities for women in sports.

Ultimate Soccer Mom
Residence Inn wants to help working moms

Hamm travels around the country on behalf of The Mia Hamm Foundation, and she knows how difficult it can be for moms to take care of themselves while they’re working and traveling. “Our crazy schedules can make any mother feel pulled in a million directions. I’m always worrying about getting enough exercise and staying healthy while I’m traveling,” said Hamm. She’s crafted two 10-minute workouts moms can do when they’re pressed for time, yet want to stay on track with their health. The routines don’t require any special equipment and can be done at home or in a hotel room.

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Are you the “Ultimate Soccer Mom”?

Residence Inn, a Marriott hotel, celebrates May as Moms’ Month, and they’re encouraging all the soccer moms around the United States to nominate themselves in the Ultimate Soccer Mom contest.

Moms can enter on Facebook or Instagram by posting a 100-word entry and a photo, tagging Residence Inn and using the #RIMomsMonth hashtag. Everyone can join in the fun and qualify to win exciting daily prizes by posting a comment on Residence Inn’s contest announcement on Facebook. The contest’s grand prize winner, named the “Ultimate Soccer Mom” by Hamm and a panel of Residence Inn judges, will win a trip for four to Los Angeles to meet Mia Hamm at the new Residence Inn Los Angeles L.A. LIVE hotel in summer 2014.

Residence Inn makes family travel easy

Their spacious suites boast full kitchens, and Residence Inns have free Internet, hot breakfasts and pools to make family travel fun and hassle-free. Residence Inn features over 650 locations world-wide, and their suite model makes the hotel perfect for extended stays.

What do you look for when traveling with kids?
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WestinSanDiego

If you are looking for a family vacation this summer, San Diego is no doubt the perfect spot. With so many great kid-friendly attractions like the San Diego Zoo, Sea World and LegoLand, there is sure to be something for everyone in your family.  Finding a hotel is usually the first on the list of family vacations to-do’s and we’ve got a summer hot spot to show you!

wes1762gr-148200-Presidential Suite (2)

Urban Family Luxury in San Diego

Fresh from a dramatic $15 million transformation, The Westin San Diego is the talk of the town! Located in downtown San Diego and just blocks from the famous Gaslamp Quarter. The multi-million transformation of this landmark hotel, now has a distinctly upscale feel with a complete revitalization of guest rooms, lobby, restaurant, meeting space and a new Westin Fitness Studio.  Being so close to the Gaslamp Quarter makes it walking distance to over 200 restaurants, coffeehouses, nightclubs, unique shops and galleries.

I like to stay at hotels with a modern and sophisticated amenities to them, I feel that it’s my vacation too and since so many of the activities during the day revolve around the kids, its nice to come back to a hotel that makes me feel a little pampered. The gym, spa and pool are the perfect places for Mom to steal some alone time while on vacation, even better if the kids are old enough to stay in the room on the ipads or watch a movie while Mom and Dad can enjoy happy hour in the bar.

DeluxeBayviewDoubleGuestRoom

Pet Friendly Hotel

Did you also know that the Westin San Diego is pet-friendly?  So now you don’t have to leave fido home alone or worry about who will watch him. Your dog will enjoy the Westin Signature Heavenly Dog Bed, food and water bowls and a welcome doggie amenity.  More details about brining your dog to this pet friendly hotel.

wes1762ex-148403-Dusk Exterior wes1762fc-148195-Fitness Center
This newly refurbished urban retreat will transform every aspect of a stay into a revitalizing experience. Come see what all the buzz is about, and enjoy a $25 beverage credit per day when you book their transformation package.  Visit the Westin San Diego for more details.

Get Social with the Westin San Diego, follow them on Twitter and Instagram

 

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post.  All savvy thoughts and sassy opinions are my own.  We share this with you so you can choose your travel savvy accommodations wisely.

 

 

 

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There is a moment during everyone’s trip to Santa Monica when you find the perfect spot on Ocean Avenue, glance at the surf and think, “I could live here forever.” Don’t fight it, it is bound to happen. Santa Monica is a magical place where the city meets the sand, and sunsets rival those you’ve seen in coffee table books. The people are beautiful and dancing neon lights from the Santa Monica Pier celebrate Route 66.

Shore Hotel Santa Monica

But you don’t necessarily have to move to Santa Monica. There is a boutique hotel nestled directly across the water where you can stay, and soak up everything you love about this lively beach town right from your private balcony. Welcome to the Shore Hotel.

Green and gorgeous

Nothing screams quaint or traditional at this property. It’s modern, crisp and seksi. And it’s also smart. Shore Hotel is a luxury sustainable property that is gold LEED certified. It’s hard to believe that luxury can be green — however, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint just by being a guest at Shore Hotel.

Shore Hotel Santa Monica

Then there is the seksi part. The rooms. Always request a room with a view, and you can thank me later. In a twist, I wish I could say the scenery was my favorite part of the King Ocean View Premier, but it is actually the bathroom. You have not lived until you’ve have felt the water pressure of this rain shower beat down on your soul. It surpasses anything I’ve ever experienced. It is a cleansing… a baptism… a rebirth. Oh, and by the way, it’s a peek-a-boo shower so you are basically Rosie the goldfish from Elmo’s World during this entire religious experience. Have no fear, with one tiny push of a button, the shade comes down and Voila! Insta-privacy.

Eat. Stay. Play.

Shore Hotel does not have a restaurant onsite, but is positioned in between great eateries. No car needed, in fact — bikes are optional too. Blue Plate Taco is maybe 100 feet from the entrance if you are up for hip Mexican cuisine. Not in the mood for margaritas? Try Seasons 52 or Del Frescos. With the fam? I happen to be a big fan of True Food Kitchen. There is something for everyone on the menu and it’s always flavorful. Recently, I was turned on to the edamame dumplings (thank you, Liz!) and I haven’t stopped thinking about them since!

 Shore Hotel Santa Monica

Butterfly and backstroke

And reverse… back to Shore Hotel. Now that you know why I enjoyed my stay, I will chime in with why Lil’ Miss Thang (age 6,) was a fan. Two words: The Pool. She was up in my grill the moment the tiniest bit of light peeked through the blackout curtains begging to dive in. I finally folded like an envelope and took her down to show her how cold the water was at 7:01 a.m. And for the first time ever, my mommy-ness failed me big time and I was WRONG! Whaaaaaaaa? Huh? It was beautiful. The temp was warm enough for a big sissy like me to jump in, but cold enough where I didn’t feel like my heart was going to stop. I didn’t even have to do the weird bop dance where your arms are at 90 degree angles. C’mon, you so know what I’m talking about.

So the next time you find yourself in Santa Monica, dreaming about moving, just do yourself a favor and visit the Shore Hotel. You can’t go wrong. It’s exactly what you imagine LA to be — only with sand.

The end.

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TheSaguaroHotel
This is a great travel story – settle in.

It was blazing hot in Pasadena and we needed to get in a pool ASAP.  We love going to Palm Springs, since it is a quick getaway from Los Angeles and always feels like a little mini vaca.  I remember seeing an article about this colorful hotel in Palm Springs over on Lil’ Sugar and I immediately decided that this colorful hotel was on my hotel list to check out.  When we were trying to get out of dodge quickly,  I literally googled ” Colorful Hotel Palm Springs” and sure enough, The Saguaro Hotel came up.  I said to my husband “That’s the one, book it!” So, without looking into any other criteria other than: “Palm Springs”, “Pool” and “Colorful Hotel”, an hour later we were in the car with the kids and on our way to Palm Springs.

All of the rooms at The Saguaro Hotel are different colors and the kids were very excited to find out which color our hotel room would be, we all were placing out bets.  Would it be purple, green, red, orange, pink or yellow? We couldn’t wait to see!

We arrived at the front desk and started to check it when the hotel receptionist handed us wrist bands and said “Here are your wristbands for the pool party”, my husband and I said in unison “Pool Party!?”  Apparently, there are pool parties complete with a DJ every Saturday during the day  at the Saguaro Hotel. As if on cue, I suddenly heard the music pumping faintly in the background and my husband and I giggled with a bit of nervousness. We made our way down the colorful hall and the music was getting louder and louder.

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We arrived at our orange room, the kids were so excited.  Even I was a little excited, you know me – I love a theme.

My husband went to scope out the “pool party” while I got the kids in their swimsuits.  He came back laughing and shaking his head “It’s a party!”  I got a pit in my stomach.  Oh god.  We were about to expose our kids to a mid-day rave…this should be fun.  When we finally made it down to the pool it was PACKED.  And I mean packed. There were no chairs to be found and wall to wall people in the pool. The music was loud but thankfully, not-out-of-control loud. I quickly scanned the crowd and saw late 20’s early 30 year olds, dancing and grooving to the music. Then I spotted one other family with two kids in the shallow corner of the pool.

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Most parents would have packed up and hit the road, but we’re not most parents.  We can hang with the cool kids and make the best of it.  Okay. I have to admit, this was not what I had imagined at all and for about three minutes thought “this sucks”, but then I looked over at Hudson and he was dancing to the music.  Hands up, in the air, like you just don’t care kind of dancing!  So I thought, suck it up Mom and get in the damn pool.

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I told my husband to get me a glass of wine stat and took on the “If ya can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude.

We got into the pool near the other family with kids and created our own little kids corner and tried not to look too uncomfortable or out of place.  We quickly became friends with the other family and bonded over being the only people with kids there.  Our kids could not have cared less about what was going on around them, they splashed around the pool and were having a great time. I tried to keep them from splashing other people, especially the girls that clearly were not interested in getting their hair wet.

A few beach balls were in the pool and our kids started to hit them back and forth and I got nervous about people sans kids getting annoyed or upset, but to my surprise the opposite happened.  They joined in.  All of a sudden our kids were adding some much needed fun to the party, not taking away from it.  There was a nice group of guys and girls that were so friendly to our kids and would even go and swim out to the middle of the pool to get the balls for them.  I was shocked and relieved. We ended up relaxing and having so much fun!  No one cared that we had kids. In fact, they liked our kids.

Right outside the pool area you can play botchy ball and there was a group of guys playing and they included Hudson calling him “buddy” and let him throw a couple of balls. Again, I was shocked and amazed. These partying 30 year olds were so nice and friendly to us and our kids.  Yes, they had been drinking and totally buzzed but that probably made it better.  Here is the difference, they were in their 30’s, if they had been young 20 year olds it may have been a totally different story.

Travel Lessons Learned

1.  Lighten up and relax more when you travel Moms.  Most situations are not that bad.  I know we all have high travel expectations and sometimes we get disappointed from time to time but be thankful for where you are and what you are able to experience.  In other words, make the best of it.

2.  You can not get upset at a Hotel when you failed to do your research, investigate and ask questions. Especially when you book last minute. It could have been worse – what if it was topless pool? (I would have DIED).  If you are like us, and sometimes make last minute decisions that means you have to be a little flexible.

3.  Not everyone without kids hates kids.  In fact, most people prefer kids to the not-so-fun, serious and crabby adults.  As long as you’ve raised half way decent little individuals who don’t act totally out of control or crazy, you’ll be fine in most situations.

I learned so much in one day about letting go, jumping to conclusions, making the most of a situation and not letting something get in the way of our good time. Life is not perfect and traveling certainly never is, but it’s all about your attitude and making the best of it.

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Sunday in the pool was much more our speed. While most of the other hotel guest were probably hung over, we were up with our kids by 8 am so we got first pick at chairs and had the pool to ourselves for a little while :)

Would I stay here again?
Yes, I would absolutely stay here again.

The rooms are nice typical hotel rooms, the pool is area is nice and you are close to the downtown shopping and dining area. They also have bikes for you to rent for free and shuttles that take you to the downtown shopping area. I of course, love all the fun bright colors of this hotel and the kids did too.  You can bring in your own pool toys, floaties and rafts.  I would perhaps stay during the week, ask about pool parties and other events they might have happening before booking.

Click through the slideshow to see more of The Saguaro Hotel.


 

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Cracker Barrel Cheese collage 1

Cheese.  What’s not to LOVE about cheese!?

I recently went to the Cracker Barrel Cheese headquarters in Chicago to learn more about the wonderful world of cheese and take an incredible food tour of Chicago. I literally ate and drank my way through Chicago for three days and came back 5 lbs heavier, but it was worth every heavenly bite. This trip was about getting up close and personal with cheese, it’s rich history and exploring the Chicago food scene. Our group was made up of some pretty savvy food and style bloggers that will be working with Cracker Barrel Cheese over the next few months to create some mouth watering content you won’t want to miss!

Getting cheese savvy with Cracker Barrel Cheese

We were treated to award winning cheeses, exceptional dining, tasty wine pairings, decadent chocolates and were even given a lesson in food styling. The first day we were imerssed into the Cracker Barrel Cheese brand by sampling a variety of cheeses, learning how cheese is made and shown how cheese is properly tasted and graded by an official cheese judge. Cracker Barrel Cheese has been making award winning cheese for 60 years and their Sharp Cheddar just recently won best in class at the U.S. Champion Cheese Contest and they were also awarded second runner up in the entire competition. It’s really some fantastic cheese.  Trust me, I ate an obscene amount of it.

I’ve already been putting my new cheese savviness to good use. Check out my
stylish hostess post on 3 Spring cheese pairings and how to set a beautiful table. These were a huge it at our friends Easter brunch.
Public Hotel Chicago

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Staying at the Public Hotel, Chicago

We stayed at the Public Hotel which has recently been renovated and is a very modern, sleek and minimal hotel.  The rooms are simple in design but very comfortable. They have a great library and coffee bar to grab a small breakfast in the morning and a great place to get some work done. The Pump Room is the hotels restaurant and a hot spot in Chicago for dinner and cocktails. The library doubles as a place for cocktails and light bites at night.  I highly suggest the Moscow Mule for a cocktail and one of the flat bread pizzas.

Little Goat Chicago

Dining with The Girl and The Goat

Dining at Little Goat was honestly one of my favorite parts of the entire trip. Top chef winner, Stephanie Izard prepared a six course meal that was out of this world. We were taken to a private dining room upstairs that was literally apart of her private kitchen. Little Goat is Stephanie’s second restaurant which is across the street from the original Girl and The Goat, which you’ll need to make a reservation for months in advance. You may want to call now.

While we dined we were hosted by an extremely knowledgable wine sommlier who presented us with a different wine that was carefully paired with each course. She shared entertaining stories about the fine art of wine and food. Listening to her while we tasted each bite and sipped each wine made the dining experience even more incredible.

Our very first course was this sweet onion soup, and it was insane. I could have taken a bath in it. Each course was tastier than the next. I loved the seared tuna paired with the rose wine, it melted in my mouth. The scallops were divine and the escargot ravioli was truly unique. We ended with a ridiculous chocolate cake that had a cheese sauce, which Stephanie likes to call a “cheez-it crunch”.

The entire meal was amazing and probably one of my favorite dinners ever. Everything from the intimate atmosphere, family-style dining table, food and wine presentation, right down to the  people I shared this meal with, it was truly one-of-a-kind.

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There’s so much more!  Stay tuned for Part II and III coming next.

 

Disclosure:  I am working as a brand ambassador for Cracker Barrel Cheese.  This is a series of sponsored content.  All my savvy thoughts and sassy opinions are my own. I share this with you because I love this cheese and tried every single one of them!  I also love traveling and sharing al the best places to eat, blog and shop!

 

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The Westin Los Cabos, Mexico

Last year I went to Mexico with Starwood Properties to review The Westin and The Sheraton.  Both are fantastic properties but very different from one another.  I definitely had a favorite.  I was there to look at these properties from a Moms perspective.  When reviewing hotels for families there is a lot to take into consideration, it’s a tall order to make the kids and the parents happy.

There is no doubt that the architecture of the The Westin, Los Cabos is stunning.  You arrive a few floors up and can see straight to the ocean and the building looks as if it was partially built into the red rocks.  When the sun is setting the buildings have a warm glow of reds, oranges and purples.  The design of this hotel is also unique because every room has an ocean view.

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The view of the ocean from my room was spectacular, not even branch from a palm tree blocked my view.  I could also see straight down to the pools and white sandy beaches, I could not wait to put my feet in the sand.  The heavenly bed was, well heavenly and I loved listening to the sound of the waves crashing all night long.  I also liked that the bathroom had an opening with shutters so that even while in the bathroom or bathub I could still see the beautiful blue ocean.

Family Note:

The glass railing and wooden horizontal beam made me nervous and I have to say that if I brought my kids to stay here I would insist on a lower level room.  My five year old monkey would have no problem climbing on the wooden railing thinking it was a place to sit.

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The Pools

The infinity pools over looking the ocean were gorgeous.  I felt the pool area was rather small and they did not have much room for both relaxing adults and kids to be splashing around.  As a Mom I am always very conscious of other people trying to relax and enjoy the pool, I never want my kids to ruin someone’s perfect day in paradise.  Through out the property there are many little pools and ponds, which I wasn’t sure if some of them were mini kids pools or if they were there strictly for decoration.  I would imagine my kids would be thinking the same thing and jump right in!  The property is a little tough to navigate, it needs a few more signs and arrows pointing you in the right direction.

The Spa

The Spa has 7 treatment rooms, swiss and vichy showers, along with sauna, steam room, tennis courts, and a fitness center.  I was a little disappointed in the spa area, it felt a little like a doctor’s office instead of a relaxing atmosphere.  The spa needs a lounge or special relaxation area to help make it feel more tranquil and get you in the spa mood.

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The Food

They have a variety of restaurants and bars on the property. Arrecifies is a beautiful restaurant overlooking the Sea of Cortez and has an upscale flair.  It is also connected to On the Rocks Bar, which has 25 different flavored Martini’s.  They also have themed buffet style restaurant for casual dining at La Cascada.  Where some nights they project old movies onto the wall for you to watch while having dinner.

The Kids Club

The kids club is for ages 4 -12 yrs old.  It is a nice, clean and safe area for kids to do crafts, watch TV and play games.  They had smaller slides and climbing toys for toddlers but this equipment was too young for kids ages 4 and up.  The kids club here is really meant to only drop off the kids for a couple of hours.  I think it may have needed a little more to keep older kids entertained or I fear they would be bored after about two hours.  They do have a miniature golf course which of course any kid would love!

I would recommend this property to young couples, honeymooners and for a girlfriends getaway.  This is a lovely hotel, the service was great and my room was spectacular but I am not sure this would be my first choice for a family vacation.

This was first published for ChildMode and I have made some editorial changes.

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Disclosure:  This was an all expense paid press trip.  All my savvy thoughts and sassy opinions are my own.

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