Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer

Just Back From: Cabo San Lucas

Beach, Hotel Reviews, Travel Tips

Jan
31
2020

December 2019

If you follow hotel news like me, then it’s no surprise that my recent trip to Los Cabos was absolutely essential for my work as a Travel Professional: writer and advisor alike. The amount of new luxury hotels opening over the past three years is astounding and it appears that every luxury brand now has a holding on the Baja Peninsula, from the new Four Seasons at Costa Palmas to Nobu to Montage and Waldorf Astoria. All the big guys are there, and as they should be.

As an East Coaster the charms of Cabo were somewhat off my radar, but now as a second-time visitor, I can firmly say: I’m hooked. The weather is supreme, the food truly sensational and the service is second-to-none. I absolutely adore Cabo for a quick getaway and envy those West Coasters for the feasibility. However, it is becoming easier for us East Coasters too with direct flights from United and more promised from Jet Blue and America. And I will say, even though I did have to connect through Atlanta, I would do it again. The guacamole, margaritas and practically guaranteed sunshine quickly alleviates any travel burden. Touring the multitude of new properties has given me a sense of the tremendous variety afforded to the Cabo visitor – from families to couples to solo travelers, there’s an ideal spot for everyone – it simply depends on your priorities.

As a guest at the newly refurbished Waldorf Astoria Pedregal this past trip, in all honesty, exceeded my expectations. Having visited the property during my first Cabo tour to enjoy its scenic waterside restaurant, El Farallon (a must when in town – pictured above) I was familiar with the hotel’s distinct location accessed through a mountain tunnel and its long expansive beachfront. However, what I wasn’t aware of was the remarkable hospitality and incredible food and beverage product at the property – not to mention the front seat views I had of spouting whales from my room’s plunge pool.

Look, it’s hard not to fall in love with a hotel who delivers fresh guacamole, chips and coronitas to your room daily at 4pm. Yet, that was just the tip of the iceberg. I was elated to find that I was pleased at every meal – from breakfast fruit served in a coconut and chilaquiles made to order to lunch filled with various fresh ceviches and elegant dinners including duck and mole. And I haven’t even begun on the tequila list, the variety of fresh margaritas (go Cucumber during the day and extra spicy at night) and curious Mexican wines. Maybe I’m partial because Mexican food is one of my all time favorites, but I was surprised to see the hotel deliver on all its levels of presentation. Fortunately the gym was also commendable, clean and spacious while the long beach made for the best sunrise walk passing by fishermen surf- casting and other early morning spectators. The Spa is yet another element of the resort that must not be missed. Dedicated to the moon phases and utilizing as much local natural products and ancient customs, it’s not your average spa. The spirituality component is strongly emphasized thus enhancing that sought-after transporting feeling. I walked away from my ancient ritual massage feeling restored body and mind. Success! I won’t lie, I also enjoyed the hotel boutique which is filled with lovely local artisan work as well as the requisite resort beachwear. The sale prices helped, too. I do so enjoy when a hotel exceeds my expectations. After so many years in the business, it’s extra special to see a property you have known adapt and improve to its full potential. Kudos Waldorf for bringing this special property to an impressive standard.

Other properties I visited and have stayed in Cabo are:

One & Only Palmilla

Ventanas al Paraiso

Cabo Surf Hotel

Esperanza

As always, it’s helpful to know the differences between them so you choose accordingly. Give me a ring and I can help

Posted in: Beach, Hotel Reviews, Travel Tips

Published by Meg, Friday, January 31, 2020 No Comments

Just Back From: Malliouhana in Anguilla

Beach, Caribbean, Hotel Reviews

Apr
08
2015

February 2015

Anguilla

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Following a 3 year closure and 18-month renovation, the beloved Malliouhana on Anguilla is back, and now managed by the prestigious Auberge Hotels Group. Redressed and gussied up in turquoise, shimmering accents and bright yellow frills (the pool umbrellas are indeed,frilly) the mod redo has made the hotel every bit as alluring as the glorious white sand beach and crystalline water it overlooks.

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A large nod must go to interior designer, Todd-Avery Lenahan of TAL Studio, for transforming a tired property into one that simply gleams. The mid-century, Palm Beach-esque furnishings lend a cheerful vibe to the entire resort, while maintaining a high quotient of glamour.

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Lenahan drew his inspiration from the photography of Slim Aarons, a beloved shutterbug of the rich and celebrated, who often photographed his subjects either poolside or on vacation in some of the world’s most iconic spots. A wise source indeed, as Anguilla’s heyday was during the same years of Aaron’s work’s heyday, thus the design also conjures the island’s most glamourous time in history. And clearly, the look carries timeless appeal.

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Cool fact: the wall mirror pictured here actually hides a television screen inside.

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What struck me most was how the simple addition of paint, mind-you in attractively chosen color schemes with charming application techniques – note the stripes painted on the walls in the guest rooms, made a world of difference to the concrete (hurricane-proof) walls. Instantly the mood was lifted. Pair this with palm-frond embellished furnishings, and iconic fabric prints (such as the black and white striped pool cabanas) and the senses were pleasantly satiated into a Caribbean state of mind. Of course, it helps that the views are expansive and nothing but sea on the horizon, and that the complimentary poolside smoothies are fresh and refreshing.
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The next best thing after the design, is the restaurant. Crisply nautical in design scheme (I’m a sucker for that), deliciously open-air (and with ceiling fans to ensure a breeze even on still nights) with cozy cushioned seating and panoramic views of the sea, what’s not to like? Even better; the food is delicious. Seriously, truly delicious. Unlike other Caribbean islands, Anguilla does enjoy a pretty phenomenal dinning scene, and so the Malliouhana simply had to perform here. And that they did. Likely, with the help of Auberge. By bringing in the talent from New York, who expertly created a menu that showcases the best of the Caribbean Sea’s offerings with a Mediterranean twist, I can honestly say, that each meal (and I had all three) was remarkably tasty. From the spiny lobster benedict in the morning (oh yes, I did) to the multi-course dinner, which included house-made garganelli pasta in squid ink and coconut oil plus poached grouper with jerk spiced spinach. I would go back just as much for the food as the scenery. And in the Caribbean, that’s no small feat. Kudos.malliouhana-auberge-resort-anguilla-dining-restaurant-collagemalliouhana-auberge-resort-anguilla-gallery-5

So, until my next visit, of which I’m certain there will be one, I shall dream of the cheerful resort’s stylish decor, the seaside setting and the delicious meals. And for a resort located on an island where the beach generally steals the show, I believe my recollections say it clearly: This place is exceptional. malliouhana-auberge-resort-anguilla-dining-restaurant-gallery-12

For more information and personal details regarding the Malliouhana or for questions on whether this spot would be a good fit for your  next trip, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Posted in: Beach, Caribbean, Hotel Reviews

Published by Meg, Wednesday, April 8, 2015 No Comments

Palm Beach Newcomer

Beach, Family

Jan
13
2014

Palm Beach, Florida

January 2014

Happy New Year!

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The Eau Palm Beach

This year my son, husband and I rang in the New Year in storied, sunny Palm Beach as guests at the newish Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spaformerly the Ritz Carlton. Our stay was a last-minute addendum to our trip, yet worked out as smoothly and ideally as if we had had months to plan it.

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The contemporary glitz of the lobby

We stayed in an Oceanfront double room (pictured below) on the Club Level floor, whose 24-hour buffet service (also pictured below) was a huge addition to our stay. Though I tend to prefer small hotels, I am happy to report we enjoyed ourselves immensely during the brief 2-night stint.

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A Double Guestroom

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The Lounge on the Club Level Floor (4th Floor)

I chalk the root of our total enjoyment up to the variety of amenities and the general high-quality that met each one. Whether it was me indulging in a blissful maternity massage at the Eau Spa – a popular spot among PB locals (for good reason), or my young son trying on costume after costume at the kids club, AquaNets, located just below the main lobby or my husband being a great Dad and getting my son to do his first solo jumps and strokes in the large palm-accented pool, we were all smiles the whole time. Also worth mentioning was the impressive breakfast buffet, which was European Grand Hotel in its presentation and girth of options. We overate till our stomachs pleaded mercy and the best part is kids under 5 eat free.

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The kids club

I am happy to say we have found a hotel we will happily return to in Palm Beach. And though its located down in Manalapan, a 15-minute drive from the action on Worth Avenue, we were happily ensconced by the beach and never even missed the retail options one bit. We even enjoyed venturing just across the bridge to the Old Key Lime House for a easy no-frills dinner on the inter-coastal, complete with an outdoor kids play area.

Rollin’ with Nolan Tip: For the family, where the mom is discerning, the kids are restless and the amenities are top-notch, this is a great option. A new FOF Favorite. Please contact me at Friend of a Friend Consulting if you are interested in booking the hotel as a VIP client.



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Posted in: Beach, Family

Published by Meg, Monday, January 13, 2014 No Comments

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About Meg

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Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.