Fairmont San Jose: Luxury and Romance Found in Silicon Valley

For nearly 30 years, the Fairmont has been hosting presidents, dignitaries, celebrities, CEOs and noted scholars in the community and partners with San Jose’s finest charitable and social organizations for events.  With the total number of rooms and suites at 805 and 65,000 square feet of  meeting space, the Fairmont San Jose is a well-traveled business professional’s dream hotel.  But being local it’s always been a gorgeous hotel that’s intrigued me.

During the holidays we’ve come to Christmas in the Park downtown with the family and we’ve walked through the lobby to see the hotel’s gingerbread house display and last year’s life-sized Grinch, while next door there is always the fun ice skating rink.  On a recent press trip I had the chance to stay at the Fairmont and brought my husband along for a stay-cation if you will.   While it’s located near fabulous shopping, museums, and any type of food you can dream of, the Fairmont has it’s own luxurious amenities, entertainment, dining, and hospitality that will have us making it an annual getaway!

Fairmont San JoseWith a parking garage beneath the hotel, valet is the only choice for overnight guests.  I prefer it honestly, and knowing there’s so much to walk to in the area, I love handing over my keys and not worrying about parking for the weekend!  Fairmont San JoseStrolling through the lobby to reception you pass the Lobby Lounge.   The space has tables and chairs along with cushioned banquette seating to dine on appetizers and cocktails while you watch the game, and live entertainment seven nights a week.  We made a mental note to come back later in the evening and enjoy one of their 500 different martinis!

Fairmont San Jose We collected our keys to the room by the happiest staff and were asked (a second time) if we needed help with our bags.  Our deluxe king suite was amazing and would be perfectly roomy had we brought our three children with us.  Alas, this was a birthday weekend for me, so it was just a huge treat to have so much room. Our bedroom suite had a heavenly king bed with a comfortable easy chair/chaise perfect for night time reading.  Fairmont San Jose Fairmont San JoseThe decor and patterned furniture in the parlor were a yellow and black contrast, simple and elegant.  A dining table and chairs was in front of the window and perfect for a meal or a meeting, along with a 32” HDTV, working desk, a speakerphone with multiple lines, a cordless phone, a separate modem connection and perfectly functioning wifi throughout the room and the entire hotel.  A vacationing family or a business team could easily enjoy this style room!Fairmont San Jose

We had a great view of the city as well as the swimming pool area, unfortunately the few days it’s rained all year fell on this weekend, so we didn’t get to enjoy it this time.Fairmont San JoseFairmont San Jose

I don’t speak too often on the bathrooms while we travel, normally they are uneventful.  Yet, I fell in love with the Fairmont’s modern marble bathroom that boasted a separate walk-in shower and bathtub.Fairmont San Jose On top of that, It’s not me who is usually fascinated with technology, but being that we were in the heart of Silicon Valley, our bathroom mirror was genius.  Have you seen a television built directly into a mirror?  I surely hadn’t.Fairmont San JoseWine, a good movie, and bubbles had me in the tub enjoying an hour to myself.  Only chocolate could have made it better!

As promised we hit the Lobby Lounge for that evening cocktail.   Even though it’s in the center of the lobby, it’s a quiet and intimate spot.  fairmont21Fairmont San JoseMy husband had a standard beer while I had the Royal Grapefruit Cosmopolitan. Okay I had 2.  A bit on the sour side, but I loved them.  Music and even dancing lasted a few hours and we just loved the entertainment with only a short elevator ride to our room.  When we returned, we were surprised by a  birthday bottle of wine, cheese, and nuts that was such a lovely touch on the hotel’s part.  The wine was from Napa, one of my favorite spots in California! Fairmont San JoseWe nibbled and retreated to the bedroom to a welcoming turndown.  Slippers, water, and chocolate for both my husband and I was a lovely addition, another first!Fairmont San JoseAfter an amazing sleep on what felt like clouds, we woke and found ourselves ready for a breakfast buffet at Fountain Restaurant.  Sunday brunch as well as standard breakfast and lunch is served daily just down the hall from the Lobby Lounge. Fairmont San Jose, Fountain RestaurantLet me tell you, guest of the hotel or not, you need to stop in for Sunday brunch if you’re in the area.  It’s downright incredible and your mouth waters just as you walk in the door and witness the selections of food they present!  Fairmont San Jose, Fountain RestaurantHot dishes, cold salads, a beef carving station, an omelet station made to order, oysters, sushi, cheeses, chicken, veggies, and pastries, oh the pastries!Fairmont San Jose, Fountain Restaurant Fairmont San Jose, Fountain Restaurant Fairmont San Jose, Fountain RestaurantWe may have been there over an hour, I’m not going to tell you how many times I walked back to the buffet or how many croissants I had! But can you blame me?

Our stay was perfection.  The hotel was beautiful, comfortable, and luxurious and the food was scrumptious.  The hotel and restaurants host events all year, the website lists what’s up and coming.  Don’t forget this is a fabulous hotel for business events or even weddings, but we just loved it as a romantic getaway for two and so close to home!

So thankful for our hosted stay and meals.  Our opinions are 100% honest and our own.

Glide into the Silky Mineral Pools at The Sunburst in Calistoga @VisitCalistoga

Glide into the Silky Mineral Pools at The Sunburst in CalistogaWith the Napa Valley so close to home, we can easily make a day trip out of wine tasting and exploring in Calistoga. Honestly though, I jump at the chance to make a romantic weekend out of any trip no matter how close. On a recent getaway to Calistoga we stayed just a short walking distance to downtown at The Sunburst a freshly remodeled boutique hotel.

Though very stark white and relatively plain looking on the outside, never judge a book by it’s cover!  Step into the lobby for check-in and see that the color and patterns start there.  We were greeted warmly by the person at reception, with an offer of hot tea and coffee,  as well as the cozy warm fire below.

The Sunburst, CalistogaAll rooms are on street level and there’s plenty of parking on the property.  With room keys in hand, we got back into the car to drive around the property to just outside our room door.  The bright green doors give a pop of color alluded to in the lobby, we were anxious to see what was behind it.

The Sunburst, Calistoga

It’s like we took  a time capsule back in time, we admired our King Suite’s fun, bright, and clean retro-modern decor with both carpet and hardwood adorning the floor.

The Sunburst, CalistogaNothing was short on comfort, the chairs, couch, and especially the bed were soft and supportive.  Doubling as sleeper, the sofa could easily accommodate a few children if this wasn’t a romantic getaway.

The Sunburst, Calistoga

Is it just me or does anyone think the bedside lamps mimic the Pixar logo?  Maybe I watch too many kid movies!  Also included in the suite was a desk/chair, flatscreen, and mini-fridge in the sitting room and a mini-bar, chair, and flatscreen in the bedroom.

The bathroom was gorgeous decked out in black and white tile.

The Sunburst, Calistoga

Aside having ample room for two, the best (romantic) part was the rainfall shower head coming from the ceiling!The Sunburst, Calistoga

The room had other great little touches that I love in a hotel.  If you’re a light sleeper, any possible neighbor noise (or husband snoring) is softened by a pair of earplugs in the desk drawer.  Single serve coffee machines mean I can bring my favorite flavor from home if need be, an iHome alarm clock charges our iPhones, and free wi-fi is a social media addict’s best friend!

The Sunburst, Calistoga

Now, one of my biggest challenges when I travel is fitting time to wind down during a press trip.  My schedule is usually go-go-go and then crash in bed at the end of the day.  During this trip not only did I have time to relax (a few hours even), but I was able to do it in the most soothing way!  Where some hotels in wine country have mineral spring tubs, the Sunburst has mineral spring pools!  One lap pool, one wading pool, and even a mineral spring jacuzzi!

The Sunburst, Calistoga

Once you glide into the water it envelops you like silk and your swim is never the same.  The view from the water was glorious as the evening was upon us, we had the pools to ourselves.  While it was a cool February day, the 80 degree water was delightful.The Sunburst, Calistoga

The mineral spring jacuzzi is a luxurious skin treatment and massage all at once, there’s nothing like it.  After a day of wine tasting, this is the way to relax!The Sunburst, Calistoga

For those who want to take a ride through Calistoga, bike rentals are available to guests for free with your stay!

The Sunburst, Calistoga

After a great night’s sleep we headed downtown for breakfast at the Calistoga Roastery, the hotel offers vouchers for a continental breakfast of coffee or tea and your choice of bagel, toast, muffin, or scone.  Sunday morning crowds let you know that the place is delicious.The Sunburst, Calistoga

One think I loved about Calistoga is their shuttle system.  The Calistoga Shuttle is at your service when you stay at any of the city’s 43 properties, FREE!  During your stay you can dine, shop, and wine taste via the shuttle and not worry about driving, getting lost, or needing a designated driver.  Passes are provided in the lobbies of the hotels upon request, then you dial the number for the shuttle and they’ll take door to door within city limits.The Sunburst, Calistoga

Once you’ve experienced The Sunburst you’ll be telling everyone you know about those pools, I know I have!  For more information on visiting Calistoga, finding accommodations to fit your travel style and budget and planning a trip, visit VisitCalistoga.com.

Our stay was hosted as part of our media visit, all opinions are 100% ours.

Avila Lighthouse Suites: Perfect Oceanfront Hotel for Families

Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila BeachThere will always be something about the ocean that just grounds me.  I love hearing the crash of the waves, feeling the sand in my toes, and smelling the salty air.  Any chance I get I want to be near the beach and this winter we found a perfect, I mean totally fun and perfect family spot in Avila Beach that I’m dying to get back to!  Avila Lighthouse Suites is an all-suite hotel just mere steps from the Pacific Ocean on California’s gorgeous central coast and is an ideal family spot to enjoy for a night or a luxurious spot to spend a week’s vacation!

Whether you’re in the area for adventure (beach activities, biking, golf), wine tasting, visiting Hearst Castle, or just getting away from it all, Avila Lighthouse Suites is close to some great hot spots.  Lots of great restaurants line the main street within walking distance, along with some great wine tasting opportunities for mom and dad.  The area reminds me so much of Catalina Island, it’s uncanny.Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach

Sure you can drive to San Luis Obispo or Paso Robles or sightsee, but park your car and enjoy all that Avila Beach has to offer, family fun can be found in abundance on the hotel property alone!  Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila BeachChecking in, you’re greeted with fresh, warm cookies that had our kids smiling from the get-go.  Next best was finding out our oceanfront room was not only across the street from the beach, but right next door to a life-size checker board, ping-pong table, and the pool and hot tub!  Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila BeachAvila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach While my son and daughter played ping-pong, my husband and I tried our luck at the fun checkerboard as we gazed into the late afternoon sky.  We could watch our kids play from our patio that captures amazing views all day long!Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach

Our deluxe oceanfront suite had two queen beds in the main room, then a full-sized sofa bed in the living room.  Each room included a flat screen tv, Bath & Body Works toiletries in the large bathroom, and there was plenty of space for the five of us to move around as well as have our own space.  A wet bar, fridge, microwave and Seattle’s Best coffee round out the in-room amenities.Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila BeachThe nautical themed decor was so perfect matching the blue and yellow hues in the rooms, unique and fun.  Exactly what I envision decorating my future beach house!Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila BeachBefore dark, my youngest was so excited to jump in the pool and spa, the view from the pool couldn’t be more spectacular!  Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach

We had one happy girl.  Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila BeachSun-setting and the view from our bed. Yes, there’s a parking lot just outside but there is no noisy through traffic. We slept with the screen door open all night and were lulled to sleep by the soft sounds of the waves lapping at the shore.  Pretty incredible.Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach


Morning came and we decided to take a walk along the beach and the weather was perfect.  Did I mention it was December and we had hardly a sweatshirt on?  Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila BeachYour stay includes a large continental breakfast for the family that included cereals both hot and cold, muffins, bagels, breads, fruit danishes, hard boiled eggs, juices, hot cocoa, and of course delicious coffee.Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach

If the property wasn’t enough, there is a community park adjacent to the hotel.Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach

Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach

The view of the property from the beach.Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach

As luck would have it, my husband and I walked around the corner to Alapay Cellars wine tasting room and ran into family!  Our cousins were in town celebrating their anniversary so we joined in for a sip or two!Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila Beach

With an extended check out, more pool time, checkers, and relaxation was had.  We were really not ready to leave, you’ll find that’s the case and immediately want to extend your stay for a week.Avila Lighthouse Suites, Avila BeachWe have relatives with a timeshare just up the hill from this property and we’ve already asked to join their next trip to the area where we’ll be sure to stay again at Avila Lighthouse Suites.  Let’s not forget there’s a Day Spa on site for an ultimate vacation perk!  For more information, visit http://www.avilalighthousesuites.com/.

Our stay was hosted in exchange for this review, all opinions are 100% our own.

Paso Robles Inn: Winery Themed Rooms with Relaxing Mineral Spring Tubs

Last summer I visited Paso Robles on a media tour and briefly checked out the Paso Robles Inn.  I fell in love with the surrounding wine country and the excellent restaurants we visited but my the selling point of the Inn was it’s the only hotel in Paso Robles to offer the healing, thermal waters of a private sulfur hot springs in their winery themed spa rooms!Paso Robles Inn: Winery Themed Rooms with Relaxing Mineral Spring Tubs

Teaming up with local wineries, the Paso Robles Inn infuses winery characteristics into the decor of 18 Deluxe Mineral Spa Rooms.  The decor, ambiance, and amenities showcase the vintner’s unique personality making each of the rooms unique and special.  Our double queen room was partnered with Sextant Wines and a nautical theme represents their love of the ocean as well as the coastal influence on the vineyards the Pacific imparts. Here’s a photo tour of the room: Paso Robles InnThemed decor also include a framed photo of the winery as well as a bottle on a dock.Paso Robles InnAs you may notice, this is one of the ADA accessible rooms, and they even decorate in the restroom.Paso Robles InnThe room is spacious with lots of seating.Paso Robles Inn The fireplace was perfect for the cold rainy night we experienced.Paso Robles InnOn the patio near the tub, I love this gorgeous mermaid on the wall!Paso Robles InnThe Mineral Springs Tub is located on the patio outside the room, has a beautiful sand dollar hanging above it that looks incredibly real!  We were on the first floor, with the drapes open it overlooks a walkway and the beautiful property.  On a cool evening you can increase privacy by pulling the ceiling to floor drapes closed that also keeps warmth in.  Paso Robles Inn
The hot waters of the spring fill the tub and offer out a sulfur odor that most people may not associate with relaxation.  Be aware to leave your sliding glass door closed to the room when filling the tub as the odor will linger in.  Included are scented bath gels to add to the tub as it fills and it really helps dissipate the sulfur smell.  Another tip, remove jewelry before getting into the mineral springs tub, discoloration could occur.  Once in, you can turn on the jets or leave the water calm and enjoy the how your skin feels as if enveloped with silk! A little more info from the website:

For over a century, travelers have sought the healing powers from natural mineral hot springs located at the Paso Robles Inn. During the era of Spanish missions in pre-statehood California, Paso Robles was known to the Native Americans and Missionaries as the “hot springs.” The Missions’ Padres were so impressed by the healing powers of the mineral hot springs that they made annual pilgrimages to take (bathe and drink) the thermal waters.

Sulfur is naturally occurring under the hotel and throughout various parts of town in Paso Robles. The water is rich in sulfur compounds and trace minerals which assist healing in a variety of ways. Hydrogen sulfide gas (responsible for the aroma) is a powerful antibacterial agent, stimulating to the body’s mucus membranes, soothing to the respiratory system and calming to the skin. Soaking in sulfur water can ease symptoms caused by arthritis, back, shoulder and neck pain and can also help detoxify the body.

It was so relaxing to end the night and start the day in the mineral springs tub, I’m still trying to figure out how to pipe it from there to my own tub!

Paso Robles InnIn addition to the spa rooms, there are spa treatments available by appointment as well as a heated pool and hot tub.  Paso Robles InnWalking around the Inn, the beauty is stunning and you don’t feel like you’re in the middle of downtown Paso.  Paso Robles InnOutside our back patio.Paso Robles InnThe koi pond is fun for the kids, you can get fish food from the front desk for feeding!Paso Robles InnA wedding perhaps, there are beautiful spots on site year-round.Paso Robles InnPaso Robles InnThe steakhouse restaurant adjacent to the hotel lobby offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner and some of the food is grown right in the property gardens.Paso Robles Inn Paso Robles InnIf you choose to eat off site, plenty of restaurants, ice cream and candy shops are within walking distance in the town square as well as wine tasting, farmer’s markets, or stumble upon a wedding.Paso Robles Inn Paso Robles InnA proud member of the Historic Hotels of America, the Paso Robles Inn has a rich and colorful place in the town’s history spanning more than a century.  It’s a must visit when in Paso, and if you’re lucky enough to stay, I highly recommend a mineral springs tub room!  The front desk offers a Passport to Paso Robles Wine Country, this includes discounts when you visit many of the winery partners’ tasting rooms. For those traveling with families, ask about their kid-friendly packages that is being updated for 2015! For more information or to book your stay, visit http://www.pasoroblesinn.com/.

We stayed as guests of the resort, all opinions are 100% our own.

Getaway to Lake Tahoe and the Inn by the Lake

Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the LakeGrowing up my family used to go to Lake Tahoe annually in the winter.  I’d ski with my dad while my mom would cozy up by the fire in the lodge admiring the beautiful snow-capped mountains.  As I’ve gotten older, skiing gives me some fear and I generally want to be like my mom, somewhere cozy and warm while I watch others brave the chill on the slopes.  Apparently I’m easily swayed, as an opportunity to visit Tahoe again in December was too hard to pass up, great food, amazing resorts, and a Gondola ride without having to ski down the mountain sounded like bliss!  Bonus, it was a getaway for my husband and I to get some R&R before the holiday rush so we packed and headed north!

We arrived to the Inn by the Lake about 6pm, the moon up and the early evening sky already black from winter.  We didn’t get the infamous flash of the lake just around the bend on Lake Tahoe Boulevard, but at least we didn’t hit any bad weather or road closures!  The hotel sits directly across the street from the lake and in a great location close to restaurants, grocery stores, shops, activities, and a short 5 minute drive to Stateline. Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the LakeI get a good feeling about how our stay will be just minutes into checking in at the lobby.  The staff behind the desk were very nice and the lobby was decked out in holiday decor and I was immediately warmed by the roaring fire.  I was asked if I wanted a hot drink from their Keurig machine aside the fireplace and I soon obliged as it was a brisk 39 degrees outside, coffee, tea, and hot cocoa was abundant.

South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the LakeGrabbing the keys to the room we were immediately taken to the pool area and bi-level steaming hot tub, wine and a soak was first on our to do list after checking out the room!

South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the LakeOur King Great Room was just that…great!  It was so roomy, the bed was comfy after our traditional flop down on to the comforter.  I loved the extra seating areas, the modern love seat was unique and we appreciated the desk as my husband had some work to finish on his laptop (wireless internet is free and available throughout the property).  South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the Lake

Sometimes the little things are big for us, like the iHome clock/alarm/docking station.  With music playing from my new phone complete with bulky case, I was so happy it fit like a charm and charged my phone overnight as well.  Flat screen plus a bar area with coffee, microwave, fridge and sink round out the main area of the room.

South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the LakeThe bathroom was enormous with a vanity, closet, and ironing station separated by a door to the toilet/shower/tub area.  South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the Lake

We donned the room robes and our swim suits (and our boots…did I mention it was 38 degrees?) and headed back to the hot tub with a bottle of wine!  I’m in love with the two levels in the year-round hot tub, it’s like a reason to party and I frankly would love one in my backyard.  Hooks are available nearby to hang your clothes and we wasted no time jumping in and relaxing after our 5 hour drive.  The waterfall from the top level to the bottom was just fabulous as I let it massage my back for about a half hour.South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the LakeThoroughly sated, we dried off and made our way back to the room.  We stopped in to admire the game room which would be perfect for families.  Board games, foosball, air hockey, along with books and a mounted television make this room fabulous to keep kids busy as you work out in the room next door.South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the LakeThe fitness center (seen during the day) has an amazing view of the lake for added inspiration!South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the LakeEven as we’re close to Lake Tahoe Boulevard, the room was quiet all night and in-room coffee, a newspaper delivered to our door, and a lovely view from our balcony had me at peace.South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the Lake

The weather was still about the same in the morning as we’d gone to bed too, but we had to venture across the street to see the lake and the views!South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the Lake South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the Lake South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the LakeSpectacular as expected.South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the Lake

We came back to the room, extended our check out for the latest hour and crawled back beneath the warmth of the sheets, it just felt right in this lovely mountain retreat on this cold wintery day.South Lake Tahoe:  Inn by the LakeYes, I also wanted to glide back into that hot tub, I still am thinking about it weeks later!

Albeit short, our stay was perfect and we will not hesitate to book this location again.  Bear Beach Cafe is right on property, our favorite family fun spot, Tahoe Bowl is literally next door behind the Inn, and we’re in such a perfect location by the lake! Activities included on site include renting Snowhoes or bikes (seasonal), there’s ski/board/bike storage available, and with Safeway just down the street consider the picnic and BBQ areas available seasonally.

This can’t be beat, how about Inn by the Lake’s Best Rate Guarantee:  If you find a rate lower than the rates shown on www.innbythelake.com that is viewable and bookable on another website for the same dates, same room category, length of stay and number of guests, contact  1-800-877-1466. If the claim can be verified, Inn by the Lake will honor the rate shown on the other website. Hard to resist right, I know you’re hooked on that hot tub too!  For more information or to get yourself to Tahoe, click on the link above to make your reservation!

Our stay was hosted, all opinions 100% our own.