Ivy’s trip to Mexico at the Grand Velas Resort Rivera Nayarit
For starters arriving at the Puerto Vallarta International Airport was an interesting surprise because it appears that they completely renovated the airport so it felt more like I was walking through an Ikea with marble floors as opposed to an airport. The driver for my transfer to the airport was ready and waiting with a clearly marked sign, bottle of water, a cool scented towel for my hands, and was very attentive to taking care of my bags.
When I arrived at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit I was warmly greeted by the staff with smiles and a hibiscus iced tea. I was joined and seated in the courtyard by my hostess who had my check in information ready for me to sign after I had received a five minute shoulder and neck massage by one of the masseuses from the Spa. You can already tell that the last thing Grand Velas Resort wants you to do after you arrive is lift a finger and that you came to the right place for relaxation with luxury.
I was guided to my room iced tea in hand by a bellman carrying my bags and an iPad. He gave me a brief explanation of where everything was located on the property and the amenities available in my room as well as the amenities offered by the resort. The rooms were decorated with a subtle elegance, upscale amenities such as L'Occitane en Provence body & bath products, spa inspired bath robes, and a gorgeous hand woven beach bag to use while staying at the resort.
After settling down in my room and taking what seems like a million pictures of the view from my private balcony I made my way down to the poolside bar and infinity pool where I ordered a glass of champagne and a bite to eat. Even though the menu at the poolside bar was quite extensive I chose a simple cheeseburger, and that cheeseburger is the best I have ever had, even better than the cheeseburgers in Kauai. If I were to describe the food at Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit and Casa Velas as phenomenal it would be an understatement. I dined at the French restaurant Piaf where the food was so amazing it inspired me to take a cooking class there the very next day. The cooking class was led by executive chef Claudio Hotter and I was taught how to prepare stuffed mushrooms topped with scallops and a red wine bacon reduction sauce, red snapper baked in philo dough with vegetables, and chocolate lava cake, all of which were wine paired perfectly.
In the mornings I joined in the LaBlast dance fitness classes that were led by ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Louis Van Amstel. The LaBlast fitness classes are aerobic classes based on various styles of dance and the music varies from pop, rock, hip hop, country, and even disco. The class was a great experience because it was outdoors in a pavilion right next to the beach and very conveniently located next to the breakfast buffet at Azul.
I spent an afternoon experiencing the tranquil environment and escape of the Grand Velas Spa which for all too obvious reasons is a winner of the Condé Nast “Most Excellent Spa Hotel” Award. The spa offers an extensive hydrotherapy area with hot and cold plunge pools, hydrotherapy spa, reflexology spa, dry sauna, herbal steam room, high pressure showers, and a relaxation area that features fresh flower petal mandalas floating in water with herbal aromas. Spa edibles like fresh pineapple, various melons and berries along with refreshments are offered to you by your own personal spa butler at the time you arrive and leave the spa.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Mexico without doing the most luxurious thing of all….absolutely nothing. I dedicated an entire afternoon to doing just that, nothing by the pool and beach, and it was AMAZING. Grand Velas has an incredible offering of things to do and see, but I think that they have absolutely perfected the vacation art of allowing their guests to relax completely. Poolside near the beach is where I posted up with my fabulous borrowed beach bag and sun tan lotion. The waiters and staff of the pool area are phenomenal, I never once felt bothered or watched but at the same time I never had to ask for anything, everything was always offered without a worry and taken care of immediately. When you leave Grand Velas you leave relaxed, full of gratitude, and happy, which is why I plan on returning in the future with more friends and family.
Montage Kapalua Bay
The most anticipated hotel opening in Hawaii
On the heels of the opening of the Andaz Maui at Wailea , Montage hotels just announced their latest new resort in Hawaii, which will open on/about April 1st 2014. The new Montage Kapalua Bay will be located on the NW coast of Maui, on the site of the original Kapalua Bay (a Rockresort, at one point). Kapalua Bay is one of Maui's most beautiful oceanfront locations, part of a 23,000 acre residential and resort development that opened back in the 1970s. The new Montage Kapalua Bay will feature 50 spacious all-suite accommodations, featuring two, three, and four bedroom configurations. Every suite will have a large terrace, at least 600 sq ft and bigger. The property will also have a large Montage spa, with many indoor/outdoor spaces and beautiful views. The property is currently managed by Montage (not under its brand) as the resort undergoes renovations, improvements, and a series of new spaces. Montage is also building a new restaurant, which the old residential estate did not have. A big selling feature of the property is the beach, a stunning, protected cove perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Kapalua has two championship golf courses - the Plantation and Bay courses - and the golf experience has been rated #1 in Hawaii by many experts. In addition to all the activities and options on property, Kapalua offers two miles of ziplines and hiking trails.
AMA Waterways Cruise
My husband and I had a great time on our AMA Waterways Cruise. We sailed on the Paris to Normandy cruise. The ship, AMALegro, was very comfortable and relaxing. The food was fabulous and meals included wine and beer. We also had a wine maker on board from Santa Barbrara, it was crazy to drink California wine in France! The ship had local entertainment at night; some was entertaining and some was just ok. All the tours and staff were good with a pace that was very relaxing and easy to do. The scenery was absolutely amazing! The owner of AMA, Christine, a young cute blond from Germany, was also on board the AMALegro. She was very nice and courteous and seemed to always want to please the guests. I would highly recommend river cruising for the experienced clientele. It may not be a place for the young, unless you have a group so you can all interact together. We had a few days in Paris after the cruise and had dinner at the Eifel Tower at Le Jules Verne. This was amazing! Truly, a once in a life time opportunity. The view was spectacular and the food exceeded expectations. It is a must do in Paris at least once in a life time. Would I do it again? Absolutely!
7461 N. First #102
Fresno, CA 93720
Ph: (559) 447-5767
Cheri’s trip to Washington DC
Washington DC is a great city for exploring and for learning history while visiting the locations where events actually took place. You can stand in George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon and see the exact view that he saw so many years ago: it is breathtaking. Gettysburg is also a must see when in DC. Standing on the same land where our soldiers were in battle is unparalleled. Don't forget to visit the memorials; they are astounding. Also, all of the museums are spectacular. Recently, a new pay museum opened called the News Museum and it has everything you can imagine pertaining to the news. When you are done visiting all of the sites head to Georgetown for a great place to dine. Be a tourist and do it all: Capitol tour, White house tour, Smithsonian Spy museum, and all of the monuments. You won’t be disappointed!
New York is so full of excitement! It is the most diverse city in the US – over 200 languages are spoken here!
My trip to New York consisted of a lot of exploring the city; everything from a ferry to Ellis Island to tasting all of the great food. We stayed at the W in Union Square, which is a very youthful and modern hotel. While in New York, seeing a Broadway show is a must. I saw Peter and the Starcatcher, which is a prequel to the beloved tale of Peter Pan. You will never run out of things to do in New York City!
7461 N. First #102
Fresno, CA 93720
Ph: (559) 447-5767