If Only You Were Here!

Melbourne, Australia

In a desperate and shameful attempt to get more of my friends and family to come from the US to Melbourne for our wedding this Summer, I will post the best picture of Melbourne (or anything Melbourne-y) once a week, every week, until the day.

Above you will see a city view of Melbourne topped with hot air balloons. Delicious! The view comes courtesy of the Sofitel in the CBD, the sunrise comes courtesy of nature and the photo comes courtesy of yours truly.

If only you were here!

 

Olinda Victoria

Olinda is for Getting Away

Olinda Victoria

Olinda Victoria

Olinda Victoria

Olinda Victoria

Olinda Victoria

Our weekend in Olinda started and ended with the b&b we found on Stayz.com.au, The Folly Farm Cottage for two. The property is on 10 acres of pure natural bliss including gardens, a blueberry farm, alpacas, a chicken coup and a shepherd’s hut for being amongst it all.

The cottage itself is the loveliest though. Everything is perfectly set up to ‘set the mood’. So much so that you don’t want to set your bags down anywhere. We walked in to the fire/heater already on, the four poster bed looking as comfortable as ever, small chocolate treats strategically placed around the room and Nora Jones blasting on the old school stereo.

I can’t tell you how exciting it is so see breakfast-for-two already laid out for the morning (bakers delight bread included) and the corner spa with two swanky champagne glasses next to it. That’s when you make the mental note to actually go out and buy some champagne.

Our hosts only added to the experience. Rob and Belinda were just the nicest people; they greeted us, helped us with our things, introduced us to Flame, Heidi and Gizbo (all Alpacas) and most importantly, helped us with food recommendations. It was quite simple really, they said. Avoid anywhere for dinner except the Pig and Whistle.

Pig and Whistle Pig and Whistle We listened and what a pay off! As far as pubs go, it was really the best we could have asked for. Especially since they had my all time favorite beer, Old Speckled Hen, on tap. Off their Christmas in July menu I had the pork belly in entree size and Jack had ‘the best chicken parma I’ve had, and I mean ever’. The dessert, which doubled as a birthday cake, was a banana, honeycomb, and Nutella bread and butter pudding with caramel fudge and ice cream. Tell me that doesn’t get you drooling all over your uniqlo down vest.

On Sunday we did the Sherbrooke trail walk and unknowingly ended up at the Burnham Beeches. Oh, you know, just the location of Shannon Bennet’s new and very exciting project. No, it’s okay if you don’t know. We had no idea. But we couldn’t very well pass up an opportunity to try the Piggery Cafe so we got coffees, shared lobster rolls and chips, and made a promise to return.

Piggery Farm Piggery Farm Piggery Farm

Oh, and they have emus. The ridiculously short hour drive from Melbourne to the Dandenong Ranges is well worth the trip.

Pig and Whistle
1429 Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd, Olinda VIC 3788, Australia
Book a table: 3 9751 2366

The Piggery Cafe
1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke VIC 3789 ‎
No booking or reservations. Get there early!

 

Kahala Hotel and Resort in Honolulu

Kahala Hotel and Resort

Introducing Kahala Resort and Hotel 

We didn’t have time to get our luggage from the taxi before leis were placed around our necks and warm welcome greetings were sung in our direction. The hotel staff ordered us to relax and completely forget about our luggage and our worries. Kahala Hotel and Resort would take care of everything from now on.

Tired and famished from our flights, we went straight to the Seaside Grill, one of the five restaurants on site. On our way we noticed dolphins doing tricks and being cute in a lagoon located between a waterfall and the pool. Yes, we were still at the hotel at this point. Upon further inspection we spotted a line of tourists waiting to have their picture taken with the slippery little guys and it all didn’t feel so cute anymore.

During lunch we resolved to devise a plan to get the dolphins out of the lagoon and into the ocean, but before we could even decide if we wanted to station ourselves beach or pool side my mom dragged us away to the check out our room.

Once you have settled in the room it’s hard to leave. It feels wonderful to be inside them; light and airy in a way that inspires napping. We made a habit of watching the golf from our balcony and the thick morning fog rolling over the mountains. Four of us fit in a room with a double bed comfortably. There was enough room for us to start Zumba classes if we had wanted. We didn’t.

Two important amenities in the hotel are the pristine work out center (never to be touched by us) and the ladies locker room. The locker room was more like a choose-your-own-adventure spa featuring an outdoor Jacuzzi, a sauna and a steam room (all used daily by us). The nearby activities center was excellent, you can rent paddle boards, kayaks, boogie boards, scuba gear: you name it, they got it. We signed up for Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga, or as us professionals call it… SUP Yoga.

They also offer classes such as Hawaiin traditions and culture, Perpetuating the Hawaiian Culture through Dance, and Ti Leaf Bracelet Making, and the Art of Bone Carving Demonstration, which we were totally interested in until we realized they conflicted with our daily long breakfast buffet at the Plumeria Beach House and our afternoon tea at The Veranda. We are not afternoon tea people by any means, but we were planning our outings around it. Not that we went out a lot any way, there is no real need to leave this grand resort other than curiosity and exploration purposes. Kahala Resort is a destination all on it’s own.

When we were in the mood the dress up and be fancy we made the quick trip downstairs and ate at Arancino, a fine dining Italian restaurant. The dress code for the 3, 4 or 5 course meal restaurant is shoes and dressy sandals. Fabulous! For us, three courses, a bottle of wine, and a lovely conversation with our waitress made for one of the most interesting and delicious meals we experienced. After dinner we made our way to the lobby for some live music on the piano and people watching.

One of the best, grandest features of Kahala Hotel and Resort is the world class spa, the great Kahala Spa. Once your massage therapist greets you and walks you to your spacious treatment room, you are transported into another world. A serene and calming world where there is nothing but exceptional oils, bath salts, smiles and aromatherapy candles. All treatments start with the ritual of Ho’omaka, a cleansing foot massage, from there you move on to your treatment. I kindly asked for a body scrub and an attentive, strong massage. I walked out feeling so relaxed my eyes were unwilling to open. I had not one care in the world. My mom said it was the best spa experience of her life and she proved it by showing us a selfie of her and her massage therapist. And I quote, “I want to cherish this experience forever.”

Don’t get me wrong through, you can definitely leave Kahala Resort and the staff will be very helpful to you when you do. Want to go visit Waikiki? They will book you in for the complimentary shuttle. Want to experience a Lua? The concierge will find the perfect fit. Want to rent a car to drive to the North Shore (and stop at Giovanni’s)? You can rent your car on site! Easy!

Also, and this is a perfect example of the ‘little things’, Kahala provides an unlimited amount of water bottles and free wifi in the entire hotel. Hallelujah!

So what I’m getting at is that, yea, Kahala Hotel and Resort would be a very wise choice.

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San Francisco Sunrise

Cavallo Point Resort in Sausalito

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

Location. Location. Location. The more I work in a professional environment the more I hear that phrase. IT’s always about location, even if we have no idea what IT is.

When my mom first sent me the link for Cavallo Point Resort I immediately thought ‘naaww, too far’.  I wanted to be right in the city, in the middle of it all. I had a fantasy of waking up early the sound of garbage and street cleaning trucks, hitting the streets to find coffee and watching the locals scurry to work. But the pictures on the Cavallo Point website are just a little too beautiful to ignore, as was the proximity to my beloved Golden Gate Bridge. So instead of garbage trucks, we woke up to the chirping of birds and went to sleep to the howling of coyotes.

Tourists never go past the viewing area of the Golden Gate bridge, the one that gives you that killer view of the entire city, with Alcatraz at the forefront and Bay Bridge at the back. But if you ever do go past there, take the first right, then make your way down the hill, you’ll probably see a deer or four before hitting the #5 top ranked resort in the US by Travel + Leisure. Cavallo Point is on a pretty extravagant piece of land next to the Golden Gate National Park. It was used as an army base.

Check-in was smooth, the secret to (free) wifi was shared straight away, the staff was overtly friendly and their golf carts were fast. Even though the contents of our mini bar were fancy and free, we rose every morning in our secluded 3 bedroom lodge and ran, well no – jogged, straight to the continental breakfast where tea, coffee, muffins and croissants (chocolate croissants!) were awaiting our arrival. Free yoga classes were offered every morning, among many other daily activities. This dog friendly resort is the type you want to stay in all day, especially with free access to a ridiculously relaxing spa. From what Conde Nast Traveller told me, it’s the 8th best spa in the US. Oh, and there is a 24 hour gym, which is fantastic if you’re that type of person.

We did get to enjoy the buffet breakfast at the Murray Circle, the resort restaurant, twice. It was incredible sitting out on the deck with my loved ones eating just as much as we want of exactly what we wanted. Be forewarned the mimosas do not come with deal buffet deal; whoops!

Staying at Cavallo Point means a different type of San Francisco experience, but – in my opinion – it’s a happier more relaxed one.

And when you stay at Cavallo Point, please, please, please wake up early and see the sun rise over San Francisco. Run across the open, healthy lawn to the edge of the water by the docks. It may sound cheesy and it is, but it’s also achingly beautiful.

Location. Location. Location.