Archive for the ‘romantic’ Category

5 Best Sunset Photography Hotels on Southwest Florida Beaches

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Are you a photographer, professional or amateur, who loves to take pictures of nature, beaches, and the sunset? If not, WHY NOT? That’s besides the point.

On the west coast of the Florida peninsula runs a long strip of photogenic beaches on the Gulf of Mexico perfect for sunset photography. Sugary-white sand beach with the calm, sea-blue water offers the best backdrops for an level photographer.

The following is a list of hotels directly on the beach with optimum camera positioning.

The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, Florida

Ritz Carlton Sarasota

Ritz Carlton, Sarasota, Florida

As the photo shows, the Ritz-Carlton is conveniently located directly on the beach. My bets are, with the impeccable service the Ritz provides, you’ll have no problems setting up a private location from which to capture the perfect shot.

Holiday Inn St. Petersburg Marina Cove, Florida

Holiday Inn, St. Petersburg, Florida

Holiday Inn, St. Petersburg, Florida

Imagine the foreground of your sunset shots with the palm frond-covered huts shown above. Near perfection, if you want my opinion. Stay at the Holiday Inn St. Petersburg Marina Cove for an affordable rate with the same sugar-white sand and the more expensive hotels.

Marriott Key Largo Bay Beach Resort, Florida

Marriott Key Largo

Marriott Key Largo, Florida

Arguably, one of the world’s most perfect tropical locations, the Florida Keys are home to some of the best photography-taking opportunities in all of Florida. Palm trees on the beach are in abundance as you capture your photograph of the sunset with the perfect silhouette of a sailboat heading out for a night-time cruise.

Edgewater Beach Hotel, Naples, Florida

Edgewater Hotel Naples, Florida

Edgewater Hotel, Naples, Florida

Tropical elegance is the selling point of the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Naples. It’s hard to get closer to the beach than the few steps it takes to make it to the water’s edge. As one of the Waldorf=Astoria’s Collection hotels, top-notch service is worth the visit.

Harbour Master Hotel, Cedar Key, Florida

Harbour Master Hotel Cedar Key, Florida

Harbour Master Hotel, Cedar Key, Florida

Rustic, classic Florida beach hotel is the best way to describe the stay at the Harbour Master Hotel in Cedar Key, Florida. Located on Cedar Key at the boat harbor, you can capture the best of the small-town, Florida flavor with the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico as your backdrop.

Photos Courtesy: Ritz-Carlton, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Edgewater Naples, Harbour Master Hotel

Top 5 Hotels for a Bay Area BabyMoon

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

My brother-in-law and his wife are expecting their first child at the end of May. It’s the first grandchild on both sides, so the whole family is pretty “over the moon” about it.

The happy couple have been talking about a different kind of moon — a babymoon, which is an often romantic trip that expectant parents take near the due date (although not too near!) You could call it a last hurrah before the baby arrives and distracts them from everything else, including each other, for the next 18 years.

Of course they asked me for hotel recommendations, and of course I had some! Here are my top 5 ideas for a fabulous Northern California (no flying so close to the due date) pre-baby weekend getaway, moving from South to North:

Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay, California

ritz carlton half moon bay

Dramatic luxury. Photo: Ritz-Carlton

Less than an hour’s drive from San Francisco, this gorgeous property has amazing The Best Service, a breath-taking view, and nightly bag pipes & cocoa ritual at sunset. From the moment you drive up to this resort, which is dramatically perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, you feel like you’re a million miles away from every care, worry and concern.

Combine a club-level stay with mom-centric pampering like the Mellow Mama massage, which uses “specific pre-natal techniques to increase circulation, alleviate tired muscles and reduce water retention” and you have a perfectly indulgent getaway!

Ventana Inn & Spa Resort
Big Sur, California

ventana inn and spa

Relax in the spa, with nature just steps away! Photo: Ventana Inn & Spa

For peaceful, contemplative walks in the woods, followed by a relaxing massage, the Ventana Inn & Spa Big Sur Central Coast Resort is a natural choice.

The Ventana Inn & Spa is set on 243 acres on the Big Sur coast, the perfect mixture of modern amenities (flat screen tvs) and nature, with guided hiking tours and miles of trails. It’s one of the Joie de Vivre properties, so you know it’s a green property. Plus the boutique chain is noted for its support of local communities, so you can indulge yourself social-guilt-free.

They offer a massage for expecting moms, using blended oils and prenatal pillows, and  “specialized massage techniques to relieve and release muscle tension, fatigue and stress.”

Monterey Bay Inn
Cannery Row, Monterey, California

monterey bay inn

You're on the Monterey Bay! Photo: Monterey Bay Inn

For a waterfront experience with a little more variety of activities away from your room and the property, the newly remodeled Monterey Bay Inn is great option located at the entrance to Cannery Row. It’s close enough to walk to the incredible Monterey Bay Aquarium, but so on top of the nightlife that it will keep you awake.

If you’re in the mood for just relaxing, the ocean-side location means your view is the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. Put that together with feather beds, 310 thread-count Pima cotton linens, and (one of my favorite amenities ever, I think all five of the Inns at Monterey do this) fresh baked cookies — plus complimentary breakfast served in your room — means it’s delightful to lounge in your room.

And yes, they also offer a pre-natal massage!

Orchard Garden Hotel
Downtown San Francisco

orchard garden hotel

A "green" room, decorated in green! Photo: Orchard Garden Hotel

I love this hotel (although I’ve never actually stayed a night, just toured it and been to events there!) and recommend it all the time to visitors. The central location means you’re steps away from all the fun of downtown SF. It’s also a gorgeous, floor to ceiling eco-friendly and organic property. The San Francisco Relaxing Getaway Special is the perfect weekend package for any couple, whether you’re expecting or not, that includes:

  • Luxurious ‘Green’ Room
  • Demi Bottle of French Champagne (come on, a few sips will be good for the baby!)
  • Chocolate Truffles
  • 20% Savings on Dinner at Roots Restaurant — delicious, cozy, organic!

Carneros Inn Resort
Napa Valley, California

Carneros Inn

Relax on your private patio! Photo: Carneros Inn

Heading north from San Francisco, you can reach wine country in an hour — less if you have a lead foot and good luck getting past those eagle-eyed Marin County-based CHP units.

My friend Sharon highly recommends the Carneros Inn in Napa for a romantic wine country get away, and I’m glad to share the advice. It sounds like a dreamy getaway, even if you’re not doing a lot of wine tasting.

Rustic features like a shower that opens up to a secluded patio mixed with luxurious touches, like a heated bathroom floor, are the perfect mix for a couples-centric weekend — it was even named one of the top 25 most romantic getaways in the world by Travel + Leisure!

Davio’s Restaurant, Boston, MA – Northern Italian Steakhouse

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Davio's Has a Gorgeous Bar and Great Bar Menu

I love it when my first meal of a trip is great. We landed in a snowy Boston, Massachusetts after circling for two hours. My husband and I were hungry but did not want to venture far from our hotel. We stayed at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers, and decided to head across the street to Davio’s.

Given our casual attire and they were closing in less than an hour, we skipped the dining room and grabbed a seat at the bar, ordering off that menu. All of the dishes we ate were out of this world. The friendly bartender took our order and since we were sharing, even offered to split all of our orders free of charge. Nice.

We started with Steamed Wellfleet Littleneck  Clams, with Bruschetta and some of the best Crispy Chicken Livers, in a reduced Port Wine, with Toasted Pine Nuts. Wow. Both of these starters were $8 each and their flavors complimented each other well. The clams were hot in a nice light broth while the livers were savory and rich – both went well with the warm bread they served us.

To-Die-For Crispy Chicken Livers w/ reduced Port Wine

Our Caesar Salad, with Homemade Croutons and White Anchovy was delicious.  Creamy and cheesy, with just enough salty anchovies for my taste.  With jet lag approaching, we were glad we skipped the hyped Philly Cheese Steak Spring Rolls, with Spicy Homemade Ketchup and Spicy Mayo.

The big finale was the $15 River Rock Natural Grilled “Steak House” Burger, served on a Brioche bun. Yum and yum! So tasty and again by splitting it we were satisfied without being too full, something we were thinking about after our long flight from San Francisco.

Davio's $15 Grilled “Steak House” Burger

Davio’s has an amazing bar menu but if you want to have a very nice business dinner or romantic meal, their dining room is the way to go. The intimate setting is very warm and perfect for deep conversations.  Given the easy location near multiple hotels in the Back Bay area, we’re definitely returning when we come to Boston again.

75 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02116-3936
+1 617 357 4810

Monday – Friday 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM

Sunday – Tuesday 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Wednesday – Saturday 5:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Sunday – Tuesday until 11:00 PM
Wednesday – Saturday until midnight

Located in the 10 St. James Galleria Atrium
Monday – Thursday 7:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Friday 7:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Photos by Sharon Castellanos

Romantic Luxury Hotel Getaway at Encore Las Vegas

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Getting away for the weekend with your partner can be a challenge, so when you get the chance, you better do it right. The Encore Las Vegas is a luxury hotel with all the amenities you’d need for a romantic weekend together.

Encore Las Vegas, Nevada

Room Interior, Encore Las Vegas, Nevada

Located next door to the flagship property, Wynn Las Vegas, Encore offers luxury furnishings and top-quality guest services. The newly crowned AAA Five-Diamond Hotel features Floor-to-ceiling windows frame the guest rooms with European linens, large-screen televisions, and 700+ square feet of comfort.

The Romantic Retreat package at the Encore Las Vegas includes a 2-night stay in a resort suite king at the hotel, a prix-fixe dinner at Stratta at Wynn Las Vegas, and two premium tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s Le Reve. From $339/night, the package is an inclusive deal for the couple who needs a refresher with one another in luxury.

Amenities on site include a full casino, full-size salon and spa, shopping mall, and some of the best restaurants in Las Vegas.

3131 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 770-7171

Photo courtesy: Encore Las Vegas