Archive | September, 2012

Jamaica Inn

So this is what it has come too. Standing outside all night long for another envelope to be opened. The new iPhone was being unveiled today and hundreds of people lined up on the street to be among the first to have it. I could not believe what I was seeing. It was just a phone and yet people waited in line for hours in what ever weather was going on. Yes it is technologically advanced and you can run your whole life on something that fits in your hand but before mobiles were around everyone managed just fine. I wondered if I could.

I called Classic Travel and spoke to my travel agent Heather and told her that I wanted to go somewhere to relax and not be around technology so much. She took a moment and then said she had the perfect place for me. Jamaica Inn. It is a very traditional Jamaican family owned hotel located on a 700 foot soft white sand private beach in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

All The rooms are suites that face the beach or are literally on the water. They all have verandahs that are out-door covered living areas that have a sofa, wing chair, breakfast table, writing desk and coffee table. If you’re in one that faces the water you can see and even feed the fish. Every morning I would bring bread crumbs back from breakfast and those fish would just jump up out the water to get them. But the best part is that there are no TVs, radios or clocks. That’s right, good-bye technology and time and hello relaxation and bliss. I was a little crazy but after one day I felt I was going back in time and I loved it.

They do have a restaurant with really delicious and what tasted like old-fashioned home cooked meals Jamaican style. Dinner is served on the patio under the stars. Living in a big city you rarely see stars, which is a shame cause its very romantic. Too bad I was by myself.

Some activities offered include The KiYara Ocean Spa which is on the cliff’s edge and all treatments are in private thatch roofed huts overlooking the Caribbean. That is pretty unique. I recommend having a facial and the deep hot rocks massage. I was so relaxed I was doing cartwheels on the beach.

Or there is golf, shopping, arts and crafts, polo or any number of water activities and the friendly staff can help assist you organizing it all for you. Everyone is so friendly but not intrusive. Sitting on the quiet and private beach was pure bliss. They also make sure your drink is always filled and they even bring your lunch to you if you don’t want to leave. All good things must come to an end and before I knew it I was back in the city. I opened a bottle of wine, turned on the TV, grabbed my iPhone out and tweeted about what a gorgeous place I was just at.

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Grace Kelly’s bridal gown at Metropole Hotel

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Dolder Grand & James Bond

“You’re not getting any younger” My mother tells me. You see, she is concerned that I will not be able to find a suitable mate and die sad and alone with a thousand cats.  So she was relieved to hear that I did get asked out. She proceeded to tell me to let them decide what to do and just agree to it. Smile, laugh at their jokes, all the time.  Fast forward to the date itself and I am half way up a mountain, hanging onto the rope while rock climbing.  Laughing and smiling was not on my mind. I felt just like James Bond.  A bad version of James Bond scared out of his wits.  So once I reached the top, and changed my underwear, I really did feel like a secret spy and wanted to stay somewhere that is very Bond and very fabulous.

Heather at classictravel.com suggested Dolder Grand in Zurich. She showed me the invitation which had the real Sales Managers in a ‘Mr and Mrs Smith” style poster. Very Bond-esque! I was sold.  Dolder Grand sits on top of a mountain with stunning views of the alps with the city below. And grand is too small a word for this place. There is a small train that will whisk you to the center of town.  I chose to drive the convertible down the  winding roads, clear skies and an undercover assignment I had made up in my head.  I was having an amazing holiday.

The famed Dolder Grand was closed for 3 years and has had a major revamp and facelift. Millions have been spent on it and it shows everywhere..  The facade of the historic Main Building was restored and two wings were added to create a towering palace.. The results are 173 luxurious rooms and suites, a spa covering 4o,000 square feet and beyond fabulous dining.

The rooms are so gorgeous that even Bond would be speechless.  Stunning views, modern and stylish, some even have a balcony and whirl pool tubs. The most superior digs come with their own sauna.  
You can relax in the library, or in the outdoor jacuzzi overlooking the Alps and the lake.   Make sure you try the stone beds as they are, surprisingly,  a great way to de stress. Naturally,  nothing tops a massage from one of their skilled pros.   The hotel also has a gym furnished with high tech equipment, quality headphones and bottled water.  If you want to explore the outdoors the Dolder Grand provides the latest state of the art mountain bikes.  No more rock climbing, thank you very much.

Finish your day  at my favorite place, the bar.  To be sure the Martini’s are always shaken and not stirred at the Dolder.  Tuesday through  Saturday there is live music..  Next have dinner at the restaurant where the local Swiss cuisine (one of my favorites) is sublime.  Speaking of food, the Sunday brunch is a must do and has been praised in many reviews.

The staff and management obviously love their jobs.  Service is quick and Swiss efficient.  All done with a smile and a keen sense of style making it all seem effortless.  James Bond would be so happy here that he’d think more than twice before returning to London.  In case you wanted to know, we didn’t get too our second date. Luxurious hotel spy, yes. Side of cliff spy, no.

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Aria Las Vegas

Sadness was all I felt. Waiting up all night for those infomercials to come on, hoping that they would  finally invent something to help me gain muscle without going to the gym. Sadly no. It was inevitable, I will have to join one of those horrible places filled with people much fitter than I in spandex.

I am convinced they do the hard yards behind closed doors and just go to the gym to show off their bodies. “All natural” they say. Mmmhmm. Everyone is magically much more fit and they’re not even sweating.  Never the less, I sign up and go in. I jump on to a treadmill and begin to run. Apparently I was competing with the person next to me as he seemed to speed up as I began. The reason for my sudden burst of fitness is because I was going to Vegas and would definitely be competing there.  Hot weather means pools and massages and fun at night.

And I gotta look hot.

Heather at classictravel.com recommended that I book the Aria Las Vegas where the Virtuoso rate includes a breakfast credit, a food and beverage credit, complimentary spa access  and a guaraneeted 4PM check out.   Located on the famous strip of Vegas, between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo  and connected to the Shops at City Center, some of the newest and most fabulous stores in town.  All rooms are very modern and sleek with buttons to control everything located on an easy to use tablet, and the most important master “goodnight” button to turn everything off when you stagger in after winning the jackpot and need a rest instantly. Floor to ceiling windows offer outstanding views.

In the food department, the Aria has nine fine dining restaurants and seven casual restaurants including the delicious Jean Philippe Patisserie, and a coffee shop for the morning hangovers. Plus there is also the Buffet where food is prepared at various live-action cooking stations. This is Vegas we’re talking, where more is more and less doesn’t exist.  
A Spa and salon are also offered at the Aria which features 62 treatment rooms that offer a full complement of treatments and therapeutic benefits as well as places to get your hair and nails done so you look your best as you paint the town red. Or hot pink with glitter as I did.
But I was more interested in the gym, as I like to pump iron, and I am happy to say it is massive and has all the latest equipment, so no need to drop my routine or motivation. So sweat in the gym and then sweat outside in the heat during the day followed by sweating at the casino tables. Lots of sweating to be done in Vegas. 
So the best way to cool down is in the pool and luckily Aria has three distinctive pools to choose from. Be aware that the Liquid Pool Lounge provides an adults-only outdoor playground which is secluded so if you wanna get sexy and show off the body, go to that pool.

But what is Vegas hotel without a casino? Aria offers 150,000 square feet of gaming . The layout and design have something for everyone, from  the hard hitting gamblers to the those who just want to play the slots.  Naturally for high-end players, exclusive salons offer high-limit slots and table games in private environments.
But a hidden tip, not too mention a bonus, for you is that there is CVS and Walgreens in front of the hotel if you want to stock up on anything last minute, like aspirin as I needed after my first night.
After an hour I was done at the gym.  Just walking around Vegas, no one will be looking at my skinny body anyway. I just keep praying that infomercial will come on.

 

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