Weekend in San Diego – Part 1 – The Hotel

The kids had a half day off of school on Friday and since San Diego is only about an hour and a half south of us, we decided to hop in the car and take a mini road trip.  One of our favorite places to stay is the Hotel Del Coronado.  This iconic hotel was built in 1888 and was designated a national landmark in 1977.  It sits on a beautiful beach on Coronado Island, just over the bridge from San Diego’s best family friendly sites.


This visit to the Del we chose a “resort view” room, which I fully understood to mean “parking lot view”.  I was correct in that assumption.  But, since it was the cheapest room available, I knew what I was getting into.  Plus, we were going to be out much of our time there, so it didn’t really matter.  On a previous visit we stayed at the Beach Village, which is a sub-resort of the Hotel Del Coronado.  This seems to be a trend in luxury travel – the ultra exclusive resort within a resort.   Pelican Hill in Newport Beach has the villas, with a separate entrance and guard gate.  The Phoenician in Phoenix has the Canyon Suites, which is also separated from the main 5 star resort.

If you can swing it, the Beach Village is amazing.  The rooms are much larger and newly constructed.  All aspects of these rooms are modern and beautiful.  As a bonus, the resort has a private dining space with a smaller version of the main breakfast buffet, that is reserved just for Beach Village guests.   These rooms also come with a dedicated concierge and BV guest only pool.   On our last stay I mentioned at check in that we would be celebrating my son’s birthday that week.  The concierge arranged for a cake to be brought to our room on his birthday free of charge.   The extra attentive service put this hotel experience at the top of our list. On our next visit to San Diego we will definitely opt for the Beach Village room again, rather than the original hotel.



Palm Springs

Palm Springs brings to mind Frank Sinatra’s “Luck Be a Lady”.  All Rat Pack swagger, Mad Men and mid century modern design.  I wanted to embrace that vibe on our trip to the desert with the kids.  So, out went the Hilton and Renaissance.  Out also went several hotels stated as “adult only”.  That was actually helpful.   As much as Joe and Jane don’t want us to spoil their honeymoon, I don’t want to keep telling my kids to “be quiet” and “consider the other guests”.   Because, frankly, they don’t.

Based on some (extensive) internet research I narrowed it down to:

  • Avalon
  • Riviera Palm Springs
  • Colony Palms Hotel

This was a feat because there are MANY hotels in Palm Springs!  Who knew?  Ok, maybe lots of people who are actually from SoCal, but not me.  So, here’s a rundown of the good, the bad and the ugly of each.   All the hotels allow kids and are roughly located in the same vicinity.

  • Avalon -$379/ night for Premium Studio 2Q.  Hollywood regency decor- sleek, white rooms.  Sophisticated pool with a view.  Reviews warn this hotel could be showing it’s age, but the positive reviews far outweigh the negative.  http://www.avalon-hotel.com/palm-springs
  • Riviera Palm Springs – $233/night for Grand Deluxe Suite.  Starwood hotel – so points are nice.   Funky decor, but still accessible.  A meld of a comfortable family resort with some vintage Palm Springs. Some reviews stated the hotel is used often for conferences, service can be poor and rooms need updating.
  • Colony Palms Hotel – $439/ night for Deluxe 2Q room.  Cool, Moroccan vibe.  Nice pool with a view.   Hip, but could it be too hip for us?  We’re not that hip.  Reviews were overwhelmingly positive about the rooms/ground/service, with only a few one-off negative experiences.  http://www.colonypalmshotel.com/

On a side note, without kids I’m coming back to stay at L’Horizon Resort and Spa.  http://lhorizonpalmsprings.com/   The place looks amazing, and by the room set up and multiple pictures of romantic frolicking, it  is clearly meant for a couples getaway.

I’ll update soon with our decision, pictures and reviews after our trip….

Traveling with Kids

Each year traveling with my kids changes.  I have found myself looking less for the closest playground and more for nearby adventures.  When I’m planning a vacation I scour the internet for anything related to “Best hotels in CITY X for families”.   The thing is, “family” can have a whole mess of different requirements.   And don’t get me started on what constitutes “best”.  While mine are no longer infants or toddlers, they have still been known to burst into a cannonball or four.  So, anything hyped as “romantic” or “zen retreat” is out the window.   Here’s a breakdown of what I look for on a family friendly vacation:

  1. Weather.  Nothing spoils a great trip more than bad weather.  Boston is a fun and exciting city.  Just not in February.  So, first we decide what activities do we want to do:  beach, ski, city sightseeing, etc.  Then, find a place that matches those activities.
  2. Location.  How will we get there?  Is it viable during our allotted schedule.  I’m dying to visit Australia and Bali, but we can’t quite get our heads around the 24 hour flight.  One day…..
  3.  Luxury accommodations.  While we don’t live extravagantly at home we want our travel experiences to be all that they can be.  That means a room with a view (or butler, as the case may be). More important than the room, is the hotel.  Service is paramount, as well as grounds.  I’ll take a small room at a nicer hotel, than the other way around.
  4. Nearby adventures. A beautiful room is great, but we won’t be lounging around all day.  I’ll save that for the trip sans kids.  We want to make sure we are in a location that is close to the activities we will be exploring.

At the kids new school they not only have Spring Break, but also a Winter Break!  So exciting!  I am actively planning trips for both, so I’ll keep you updated on when/where/how those come together.


California or Bust

We arrived safe and sound in lovely southern California about a week ago.  Which isn’t particularly notable except for the fact that we are traveling like gypsies with 6 suitcases comprising 6 months worth of belongings.   It was a whirlwind first week – touring the kids new school, buying uniforms, enrolling them in school, and basically trying to figure out where everything is.

School was the easy part.  Finding living accommodations was a bit harder.  We were looking for a furnished space with at least 3 bedrooms with either a pool or ocean view (we are in southern California, after all) that will give us a 6 month lease.   Unfortunately,  there weren’t many places that fit the bill.  In the end, we decided on an extended stay villa at a local resort.  The place is gorgeous, with a view AND a pool!   So, even if it means the kids can’t go to college, at least we will live like kings these next 5 months.


Sunset on our first night.  Before the rain…..IMG_7597.JPG

Homework on the porch.  Can’t do that in Virginia in January.

This is happening….

In an effort to live a more conscious life we are off to California.   What I mean to say is, after leaving my career and staying home with the little guys (who aren’t so little anymore) I am finding the days just slipping away.  We are swept up in a storm of sports practices, homework, and crockpot meals.  I realize I can’t slow time (anyone working on that?), so we’ll do the next best thing, which is to get out of our routine and try something new.

We got lucky when Pete’s company won a project at a bank in California.  That buys us 6 months to make the most of sunny weather, beaches, and hopefully more quality family time.  I’m guessing the kids are more excited about the first two.   Along the way, I’ll share my thoughts on the whole experience.  Maybe I’ll even come up with some new recipes!

Wish us luck!



Clemson Tigers Game Day

We’ve had a bit of an Indian Summer here this week in Virginia, but I am still dreaming of fall days.  This outfit would be perfect for cheering on my Clemson Tigers as they battle it out in Tallahassee next weekend.   See those same Frye boots?  Might just have to get me some….
Clemson Tigers Game Day


French Connection gray sweater
$105 – johnlewis.com

Frye booties
$350 – neimanmarcus.com

Tie scarve
$2.46 – urbanoutfitters.com

Fall Casual

I hate my closet.  I say that all the time.  The truth is,  I have some great stuff in there.  I just don’t want to wear it (or it doesn’t fit, but that’s a post for another day).  This is what I want to wear today.  Too bad I don’t own any of it.  Except the bag.  That Gucci disco bag goes with everything!
This t-shirt dress looks so comfy and classic and I’m sort of obsessed with this army green members only-looking jacket.  Am I dating myself?  Everything old is new again?  Humor me.
Fall Casual

Jigsaw t shirt maxi dress
$85 – johnlewis.com

Frye cognac booties
$350 – neimanmarcus.com