A Taste of Tuscany in Napa: The Meritage Resort and Spa

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaWhen we’ve traveled to Napa’s wine country in the past our trip included stops at a variety of wineries, a restaurant or two, and then we’d spend the night in a great hotel.  Recently, we had a similar experience at The Meritage Resort and Spa that included delicious meals, the finest resort amenities, wine tasting in Trinitas Cellars, a vineyard walk, and spa tour all without moving our car!  With only about 24 hours to spare, it was the perfect romantic escape my husband and I needed in an all-in-one location!

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaAfter checking in, we had to explore this beautiful location.  Taking a walk around the 32 acres of property the beauty is imminent with gardens of flowers, plants, and of course grapes lining the buildings.  A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and Spa

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaStrolling around their 9 acres of hillside vineyards dotted with Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot grapes has you thirsty for a taste of wine country. Then hike to the famous Grape Crusher statue atop the hill.  A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and Spa

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and Spa

The Grape Crusher, The Meritage Resort and SpaThe fabulous open air gym is something I haven’t seen much in resorts, check out this view for guests needing some motivation during their workout:A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaOur room was ready and we were eager to see it.  The resort first opened in 2006 and had their guestrooms remodeled in 2013 with a taste of Italy right here in California! A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaOur Superior King guest room was completely stunning with Tuscan-decor and luxurious bedding in gold, brown, and maroon.  Believe me it was HARD to get out of bed the next morning, it was like sleeping in the clouds.  There’s a rich wood desk to get some work done, if you must,  as well as more seating bedside with a comfortable chair and foot rest.  But, my favorite part of the room is the balcony with seating and a table for your wine as you gaze out onto the breathtaking view day or night! A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and Spa Now that’s a spot I can spend hours relaxing on.  Our doors stayed open throughout the night and other than the singing of the crickets, the quiet was so peaceful.

The daily resort fee added to the room rate includes bottled waters daily, internet use throughout the property, daily newspaper, self and valet parking and more but what would a stay in Napa be without a bottle of wine in-room as well?!  A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaA lovely bottle of Trinitas Apprentice was included in our room for us to enjoy on that lovely patio.  The bathroom is large and has a marble-topped vanity as well as lovely  Travertine tile in the bath/shower.  As much as we wanted to spend the entire time in our room, we had so much more property to explore!

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaA little hungry for lunch, we multi-tasked and headed to Crush Ultra Lounge.  Just at the bottom floor of our room’s building, this fun spot offers a sports-themed lounge with six luxury bowling lanes, a pool table, big screen televisions, and great dining options.  My husband and I love to bowl and do it every chance we can, so we got a little friendly competition going and had something to eat.  We shared flavorful sliders and ordered beer and bowled two games.  A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaIn the evenings Crush is lit up with neon and  music gives it a trendy nightspot for guests as well as the public.  Private corporate, wedding, or family events can be arranged in this space as well.

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaNext up, a visit to one of the two pools and we chose the Adults Only pool.  Cabanas, lounge chairs, covered couples chairs and more surround the heated pool and whirlpool and we indulged in some of the delicious drinks that are delivered to you right in the water!  The Napa Sunrise was my ultimate favorite drink during our stay but I was a tad disappointed they didn’t make it back at Crush Ultra Lounge.  The space was full of people while we basked in the sun, and we encountered a fun bachelorette party poolside.  Enjoying the Adults Only pool kept us from missing our kids too much, but the second pool on property is family-friendly.  At night the area has some great spots to relax fireside.

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and Spa

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaThe courtyard between our building and the main lobby building is lit up at night and reminds me of photos I’ve seen of Italian streets with more lovely spots to enjoy your wine by a cozy fireplace or fountain.

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaJust steps from our room and the pool, Trinitas Cellars offers wine tasting inside their cool Estate Cave.  It was warm out, so this was a great place to escape the heat for an hour or so and get to know the wines.  A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaSomething I love when I taste is to enjoy a custom flight.  With 5 tastes ($20 fee, waived with a $100 purchase) available I looked down at the list and took into consideration my personal taste and the employee’s suggestions and came up with my selections. I love whites, so I tried two Chards and then I enjoyed the honey finish on the Rose’ary.  The Zinfandel is one of my current favorite reds, so I tasted the RatZINger named for former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.  The Busch family who founded Trinitas and built The Meritage visit the Pope each year and he has a bottle of this wine in his apartment!  My favorite though was the silky Mysterium that is a blend made up mostly of Carignane and Zinfandel grapes.

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaWith a few great choices for dinner, we headed back to Crush Ultra Lounge, we looked for something to share since our appetites were small.  We ended up with the California Chicken Club, this grilled chicken sandwich was beautifully dressed with  avocado, queso fresco, and avocado cilantro cream, pico de gallo, lettuce and tomato.  Each bite was full of flavor and crunch from the toasted bread.  With a salad on the side, it was a perfect small meal. The Commons is a full bar in the main lobby of The Meritage and offers 30 of the finest wines from Wine Country by the glass, single malt scotches, small batch bourbons, signature hand crafted cocktails, small bites and shared plates.  A cheese plate, panini, wrap, or soup and salads can be found at Blend until 7pm along with a variety of snacks.  Award-winning Siena Restaurant has be lauded with such prizes as Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence, Napa Valley Vintners’ Napa Valley Restaurant Award, and OpenTable’s Diners’ Choice Winner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, Sunday Brunch is all done with a Tuscan flair and most dishes blend both Italian and Californian influences.  Our next (longer) stay will have Siena at the top of our list!

Our sunset stroll had us back up the hill to The Vineyard Deck and a gorgeous spot we could envision a wedding.

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and Spa

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaThe Grape Crusher looks cool at night as well.A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaMorning came too soon, but we headed to Blend for some coffee, bagels, and an amazing chorizo burrito that was big enough to share.A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and Spa

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaRoom service was sure tempting, but after sleeping in and seeing what another gorgeous day awaited us, we dined al fresco just outside on a comfortable couch and told eachother we never wanted to leave this beautiful place!

A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaThough I didn’t get a chance to enjoy it (this time), I did take a tour of the gorgeous Spa Terra nestled in the hillside in the Estate Cave. Quiet, serene, and peaceful, Spa Terra is located in the 22,000 square foot Estate Cave and includes 12 treatment rooms, including four for couples, his/her private lounges with whirlpools and saunas, a Serenity Lounge and boutique.  The lounge and the whirlpool rooms have water cascading down the walls and it soothes the senses almost immediately.  Private rooms for your massages, facials, and body treatments are available and they also have couples’ rooms for exciting “Love for Two” spa treatments.A Taste of Tuscany in Napa:  The Meritage Resort and SpaI know people from all over the world come to the Napa area and experience all it has to offer every year.  I believe The Meritage Resort and Spa is one of the must-see locations in the area!  Even if you’re visit to Napa is only 24 hours, you can get a taste of the Napa hospitality, drink amazing wine, dine on superior cuisine, and have a whole lot of fun doing it!  If you stay longer than we did, you’ll be pleased to know that included with your daily resort fee The Meritage provides an evening shuttle to Downtown Napa from 4:30-10pm daily!  You still don’t have to move your car!

For more information and to book a stay visit http://themeritageresort.com/.

I’m appreciative of my hosted stay with dining.  Wine tasting, bowling, gratuities and my opinion all my own.

Pismo Beach: Relax at Seacrest Oceanfront Hotel & Play at Steve’s ATV

Pismo Beach:  Relax at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel & Play at Steve's ATVOnce again our son’s baseball playing let us explore a new location in this amazing state. Our latest tournament had us in the Pismo Beach area. Having lived in the Bay Area for over 30 years I had never been to Pismo and I’m wondering what took me so long!! It doesn’t look like much from the freeway but once we explored a bit we were completely smitten by this coastal town.

The Pismo Beach area has so much to offer for couples or families. We checked out www.ClassicCalifornia.com and were blown away by all there is to do. We drove around downtown Pismo and couldn’t wait to get out and stroll around.

We were so fortunate to stay at the SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel. Our Deluxe OceanFront room in the South Tower was spacious and had everything we needed. We had two queen beds and a full size sofa sleeper. There was more than enough room for all four of us. Just a few of the amenities we also enjoyed were:

Pismo Beach:  Relax at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel & Play at Steve's ATV

  • Free WiFi Internet access
  • 42” Flat-panel HDTV with DirecTV
  • Refrigerator
  • Microwave
  • Keurig coffee maker w/coffee
  • iPod docking station
  • Free local calls
  • Iron/ironing board
  • Individually controlled heating and cooling

The boys (all 3 of them) were most excited by the TV and DirecTV access, of course, but I was more interested in the spa like bathroom. It included a hair dryer, spa-inspired tri-nozzle showerhead, two bathrobes, and spa-inspired bath & body products. It was also large enough to allow more than one person to use it at a time.Pismo Beach:  Relax at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel & Play at Steve's ATV

But the best part about this room was the view. It was breath taking! We had a sliding glass door to a private balcony overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We were so close to the beach it was remarkable. I could have slept out there! My hubby convinced me just to sleep inside with the door open. Listening to the ocean while going to sleep and then waking up still hearing the waves crash on the shore is something I could so get used to. I never wanted to leave!Pismo Beach:  Relax at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel & Play at Steve's ATV

Pismo Beach:  Relax at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel & Play at Steve's ATV

Pismo Beach:  Relax at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel & Play at Steve's ATV

They also offer a “Thirst Aid” service giving guests a chance to enjoy local award-winning wine and beer on the private balcony or patio, conveniently delivered to your room. pismo7Although I didn’t have a chance to try this out (because we had to make a detour to the local ER because of an ATV accident) I know it would have been right up my alley.

The hotel staff and service was fantastic. Everyone was friendly and helpful, even coming to our room to show my husband how to use the Keurig! ;o)

The SeaCrest has really thought of everything. They are located in one of THE most incredible locations in Pismo and the hotel provided amenities go above and beyond.

  • Continental breakfast
  • Coffee and cookies in the afternoon (3pm-7pm)
  • Direct beach access
  • Heated pool with ocean view
  • Three outdoor hot tubs
  • Entirely smoke-free guestrooms
  • Pet friendly facility and rooms
  • BBQ gas and charcoal grills
  • Complimentary wireless Internet access throughout the hotel
  • Fire Pits and heaters
  • RoofTop Terrace, 4th floor overlooking Pismo Beach
  • SeaMist Terrace with lounge chairs, firepits, and 3 gas barbecue grills

Pismo Beach:  Relax at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel & Play at Steve's ATV

While we were there the SeaCrest staff recommended we try ATV rides on the dunes and that’s all the boys could think about, so before we headed downtown we went there first.

We went into Steve’s ATV because they looked the most professional from the outside. Inside Michelle helped us and answered all of our questions. She was super accommodating and very knowledgeable. We ended up renting 4 ATVs – 1 for each of us. You drive out to the dunes and their yellow bus picks you up and takes you to a trailer and all the quads. Everyone at the trailer was ready to lend a hand too.Pismo Beach:  Relax at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel & Play at Steve's ATVWe had to watch a short safety video, outlining the rules and things to remember to stay safe. It was professionally done and to the point. After the video, we got our helmets and gear. My youngest didn’t have sunglasses and I was wearing flip flops. They had both goggles for him and spare shoes for me.

Pismo Beach:  Relax at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel & Play at Steve's ATVWe got a brief rundown on the machines and then we were off. You head down the dunes and it just keeps going and going. There are flat well-worn areas and then there are the dunes; miles and miles of dunes. It was truly like a mirage; you would think you had reached the end and then get to the top of a dune and realize there were miles and miles of sand that seemed to go on forever.

Pismo Beach:  Relax at SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel & Play at Steve's ATVIt took a little getting used to, as the boys kept getting stuck in loose sand, but they finally figured out what to look for and avoid. We had ridden about an hour before my “accident” and unfortunately had to go back. The staff was really great and offered the boys the remaining 1 hour on our rental time if they wanted to come back later or the next day. We all had a BLAST!! The boys haven’t stopped talking about the ATV ride.

Our trip was cut a little short, like I said because of my untimely ATV accident, so I am looking forward to returning to Pismo Beach to explore more and we will be staying at the SeaCrest Oceanfront. They have spoiled me for any other hotel.

Bridgette writes for The Mom Reviews–I’m a mom with 3 kids (translated…a husband and 2 boys – 12 and 14 ) who’s reached that 35-47 age bracket. I love music, coffee, crafting, and devouring a good book! I currently work as the Office Administrator at a preschool. I’ve also worked as an HR Assistant, 911 Communications Operator, and Golf Course Starter. Our family loves animals, camping and fishing, baseball, hockey, and going to the movies. We have 4 cats and 1 amazing dog, Buster. When the kids aren’t playing baseball, we love spending time with our friends and family.

Our stay was hosted, all opinions my own.

Visiting the Beautiful Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun Mexico

Hard Rock Hotel, CancunPart of my recent press trip to the Hard Rock Hotel in Mexico’s gorgeous Riviera Maya included a day trip to the resort’s sister property in Cancun along Zona Hotelera. Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun Mexico-photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel.

A little over an hour’s bus trip each way will have you driving down the guitar shaped entrance to Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun that is only slightly different from Riviera Maya but overall still the same rock star experience. Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun Mexico

Both locations will still have you oohing and ahhing around the property checking out famous rock memorabilia from your favorite artists!Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun MexicoAll-inclusive bonuses include the following at both hotels:

  • Fine dining at any of the resorts many establishments
  • 24-hour room service
  • Top shelf liquor cabinet, drinks and mini bar
  • Daily and nightly activities and entertainment

Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun MexicoCancun has this amazing spot, the Sunset Terrace where you can host a meeting or party here for NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE with your stay, it includes food and alcohol! Really! When they say all-inclusive..they mean it! With no cost overruns for food, snacks, beverages including alcohol, meetings, parties, banquets, receptions, room service, phone calls or even Wi-Fi, planning a meeting, incentive trip, conference or event at the Hard Rock all-inclusive is so easy!Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun Mexico Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun MexicoAll guest rooms include a hydro spa tub and turquoise colored ocean and white sand views start at the Deluxe Platinum level. I could sit out on the balcony of my room for hours!Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun MexicoRather than spread wide, the Cancun location stands taller like a high-rise.

Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun Mexico Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun MexicoTwo swim up bars at each end of the expansive lagoon-style pool features also includes a kid-friendly wading pool, thrilling water sports, and three outdoor hydro spa tubs including an adults-only tub to for the ultimate in relaxation. The kid’s club also has a pool with kid-sized slides!Hard Rock Hotel, Cancun Mexico-photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel.

Restaurants like Zen, Ciao, Ipanema, Frida, Pizzeto, and the Market are found at both locations.

Overall, I found the differences to be minimal, it’s like staying at an amazing resort in the city or staying at an amazing resort in the ‘country.’  Either experience will knock your socks off and you’ll be begging to go back like I am!

For more information, visit http://www.hrhcancun.com/.

My visit and lunch was part of my media visit, all opinions are my own.

Carson Valley Inn: Some GREAT Reasons to Stay!

Disclosure: I was invited out on a Media Trip to Experience Carson Valley. All opinions are my own.

Carson Valley Inn: Some GREAT Reasons to Stay!

During my stay in Carson Valley where I experienced the V&T Railroad and Soaring NV, I also stayed at the Carson Valley Inn. The inn, located in Minden, NV is right off Interstate 395 just south of Carson City, NV.

This place has a little bit of everything happening all around its property. Some of my favorites:

1) TJ’s Corral

Carson Valley Inn: Some GREAT Reasons to Stay!

TJ’s Corral is Carson Valley Inn’s latest outdoor concert venue. Some summer lineups are on the schedule including:

Chris Young: August 2nd

Austin Palooza: August 16th

The Charlie Daniels Band: August 29th

There’s nothing like enjoying an amazing music concert while the sun goes down, and it truly livens up the crowd too. That evening we were fortunate to take in a concert with Dustin Lynch, and boy, does the crowd come out for a good time. A great way to experience the spirit of Carson Valley and Nevada.

The Pool Area:

Carson Valley Inn: Some GREAT Reasons to Stay!If you ever book a hotel and are looking to enjoy some time in the pool, this is a good place. It’s a huge area that is pretty secluded on the 2nd floor of the hotel.

What I really loved was the separate area to sit and mingle. Those with families know how important having extra seating is.

Cozy Rooms:

Carson Valley Inn Hotel RoomWhen we travel, we enjoy a bit of relaxation, and that truly comes with the hotel room. The rooms were nice and cozy, and the bathrooms were also pretty spacious that could easily fit more than one person in there, if needed.

The Casino:

Carson Valley Inn: Some GREAT Reasons to Stay!And yes, it’s Nevada and the Carson Valley Inn has a casino right inside its hotel. It was also voted Nevada’s Number One Casino by Reader’s Choice.

Whether you’re a fan of slots or looking for some fun of poker, they have it here. With over 600 slots and videos.

The Restaurants:

The Inn also has three locations for food.

Katie’s Country Kitchen:

This place is open 24 hours a day located on the casino floor. Katie’s comfortable atmosphere, generous menu selections, and value-packed specials make this restaurant a favorite among locals and hotel and RV park guests.

CV Steak:

If you’re looking for more of an upscale dinner then dine out at CV Steak. Their Nevada-style steakhouse serves dinner nightly starting at 4:30 p.m. CV Steak Bar opens at noon Monday thru Friday and at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Job’s Perk:

And if you’re looking for a quick bite on the go then stop into Job’s Perk for a cup of coffee, a sandwich or morning pastry.

And, if you’re driving by in an RV and need a place to stay, the Carson Valley Inn has you covered with 59 full-hookup sites with electric, water, sewer and cable TV – plus free wireless internet access. There are a total of 26 pull through sites and 33 back-in sites.

The two night stay was quite comfortable, and the rooms are really affordable making it a good choice the next time you’re residing in the Carson Valley area. Just 30 minutes from Lake Tahoe, less than 10 minutes from Carson City, and at the heart of Nevada.

JamieJamie is a born and raised Minnesota Girl who has landed herself in California. She writes over at http://mngirlinla.com where she explores all things food, travel and wine.

Visit Paso Robles Wine Country: Four Great Places to Stay

Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to StayLocated half-way between San Francisco and Los Angeles and with nearby attractions such as the historic Hearst Castle, over 180 local wineries, and gourmet restaurants located downtown, Paso Robles has something for everyone. Named Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Region of the Year in 2013, Paso Robles is quickly becoming a desired California destination similar to Sonoma, Calistoga, and Napa Valley.

I was thrilled that a location so close to home has so much to offer.  I remember growing up as that town just before SLO and now I’m eager to head back and take in all that Paso wine country has!  Grab your loved one or your group of girlfriends and plan a trip to the area, but first and foremost, here are some great Paso Robles hotels to check out!

Paso Robles Inn
Romantic charm and history can be found at the Paso Robles Inn, and it’s within walking distance of shopping and dining and more.  Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to StayWith 98 non-smoking guest rooms, you’ll find 18 all-new or newly-remodeled rooms featuring local winery-themed decor and photos as well as a unique and private hot springs mineral tub in your room or on the patio overlooking the gardens.Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to Stay

During the summer, the Inn offers a Wine and Tapas event and a Wine Maker Dinner series on select Thursday evenings.  The property garden grows food for their steakhouse and there’s a whole new menu of signature drinks offered at the Cattlemen’s Lounge.

La Quinta Inn & Suites
I stayed in this location for the 3 days, two nights of our trip.  Driving south on Hwy 101, it’s right off the freeway and easy to find.  The staff was warm and welcoming and helpful with questions I had.  Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to StayMy room was huge with a king bed and sofa sleeper Also there was a balcony overlooking the property.  I had a fridge, bar area, with in-room coffee and a large bathroom.  The hotel was super clean, and I especially enjoyed the evening wine hour with breads and cheeses and local wines.  Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to Stay Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to StayIn the morning breakfast was offered in the lobby with an abundance of choices of hot and cold items.  Breakfast and the wine hour are all included in the price of your stay, always a bonus for me!  Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to StayAcross from the front desk is a gift shop that carries lots of local wines, jams, spreads and also sodas, waters, and some toiletry items.  Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to StayIt was in the nineties during our trip, so I took an afternoon of free time to swim a few laps to cool down.  There’s also a hot tub and plenty of tables and chairs about the pool area.  This spot is perfect for couples, girlfriends, and would be ideal for families traveling to the area!

Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to StayLa Bellasera Hotel & Suites
This luxury boutique hotel looks amazing from the outside, and I chatted with one of the girl’s on our trip that stayed in this location and she enjoyed it, especially the whirlpool spa in-room!  Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to StayI always love this option, especially on a romantic getaway, or just when the hot tub by the pool is full or closed for the night!  Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to StayA spa offering high-quality services via soothing massages, facials, body scrubs and more is available on site as well as having the treatment done right in your room!  La Bellasera has Enoteca Restaurant & Bar offering 3 meals a day plus Jazz music Thursday nights.  *Dining available at additional cost.

The Oaks Hotel
On the west side of 101, The Oaks Hotel offers nicely appointed rooms and suites for travelers to Paso Robles.  Visit Paso Robles Wine Country:  Four Great Places to StayWith a full breakfast buffet (included), pool/jacuzzi, fitness room, and also dog-friendly, you’ll find something unique for guests with eco-friendly vehicles!  The Oaks just installed 6 brand new SemaConnect Electric Vehicle Chargers. These charging stations are a complementary service and completely free of charge. Non-guests can feel free to use our charging stations for a small fee of $15.  The Oaks has complimentary wine tasting on Friday and Saturdays and a bar and restaurant, Indulge open for gourmet dinner nightly.

For more information on where to stay in Paso Robles, visit http://www.travelpaso.com/.

My stay at the La Quinta was hosted as part of our media tour, all opinions my own.