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.

The Beautiful Omni La Costa Resort #TMSCarlsbad

A few years ago I had the opportunity to bring my family along to the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, California for a resort review.  It was a short trip, but I knew it was a place I would love to come back to.  Just before the holidays I had that very chance to stay and attend the Travel Media Showcase, and what an amazing stay it was!

The temperatures were in the mid-70’s and it was late November, no one can complain about that.  Three days and two nights is a perfect amount of time for a getaway with your spouse, girlfriends, or even a fun family weekend.  I spent my days in a travel conference with wonderful people, amazing speakers, and tons of great business contacts all the while having free time to enjoy the hot tub, spa, shops, exquisite dining, and take in the views.  If you’re looking for a place to hold a conference, you can’t beat this amazing location.

Here are some photos of my stay.  I’ve linked my prior review above, but I had to post these photos for you to enjoy and plan your next visit to sunny southern California!

The La Costa Suite offers a living room with sofa sleeper, television and desk with a partitioned bedroom opening to a large bathroom area with a deep soaking tub with separate shower.

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Eight pools grace the property including an adults-only pool, one private pool in the Spa, splash pools for the kids including water slides and a sandy pool, as well as jacuzzis for relaxation!Omni La Costa Resort Omni La Costa Resort Omni La Costa ResortOmni La Costa Resort

For golfers, the two golf courses at Omni La Costa, a Southern California Gold Medal Golf Resort, are amongst the most storied in California. Boasting a rich tournament history and a cadre of prominent guests, the list of names to be dropped include the best professional golfers in the world, prominent politicians, Hollywood celebrities and legendary sports heroes.

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There are no shortage of palms on the property, nor birds of paradise, the landscaping is absolutely stunning!  Omni La Costa ResortOmni La Costa Resort Omni La Costa

Dining is a “fresh” experience on the property. Fresh ingredients from the farm, the sea and the on-site organic gardens find their way onto each plate served at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. It’s a promise sure to please every palette.  Two amazing restaurants with award-winning menus, poolside cafes, Spa cafe, and a lounge will have you cemented to the resort, never worrying about having to leave and find a place to eat!Omni La Costa Resort Omni La Costa Resort Omni La Costa ResortThough I didn’t get to enjoy it, Spa at La Costa has set the gold standard for wellness retreats and was recently named the #1 Wellness Spa in the nation by Spa Magazine and Travel + Leisure’s #4 Spa in North America!  It’s one you need to explore and on my bucket list!Omni La Costa ResortMy stay was amazing, work and play is one of the best combinations!  The staff is phenomenal and go above and beyond to help each and every need.  For more information, visit http://www.lacosta.com/ to book your stay, your spa appointment, or your conference, you won’t regret it!

omni3The conference was a success, loved meeting so many new people, make some great travel media contacts, and hang out with a few old friends! To learn more about TMS Family Travel and Travel Media Showcase, visit http://www.tmsfamilytravel.com/

My stay was hosted as part of my conference attendance, all opinions are honest and 100% my own.

4 Great Conejo Valley Hotels @VisitConejo

I may have put the car in front of the horse when I told you about the amazing places to dine in the Conejo Valley before I told you about the great places to stay.  Truth be told, I couldn’t stop drooling thinking about all those great restaurants we checked out!  The desserts, the steaks, the ambiance of those great locations had to be mentioned first.  Anyone can visit those restaurants when in the area, but I think to truly get the feel of the Conejo Valley, you should book a stay at one of these 4 great places and spend at least 3 days there!
4 Great Conejo Valley Hotels

Hyatt Westlake Village
880 South Westlake Boulevard, Westlake Village, CA 91361
(805) 557-1234

I talked about the food in my dining post, this alone will have me coming to stay here before any hotel on our next visit! Located 18 miles away from the beaches of Malibu, this Mediterranean-style hotel boasts an outdoor pooland hot tub. 4 Great Conejo Valley Hotels Flat-screen cable TV is provided in each air-conditioned guest room and all rooms include an iPod docking station, a work desk and a coffee machine. Los Robles Greens Golf Course is 6 minutes’ drive away from this hotel. Central Los Angeles is 38 miles away. Los Angeles International Airport is 45 minutes’ drive away.

Best Western Thousand Oaks Inn
75 W Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360-4416
(805) 497-3701

Discover this historic full-service Thousand Oaks, California hotel nestled at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains with convenient access to Malibu, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and Ronald Reagan Library. Guests receive the highest quality of customer service and find comfortable amenities for an affordable price.  Nearby salon and spa services are available to guests as well as gym access to a nearby facility where you can work out while watching a big screen movie!  4 Great Conejo Valley Hotels unnamedRooms are large, clean, and comfortable opening to the courtyard in the center of the property.  Rooms include a comfortable desk, sitting area, plus coffee maker, microwave and mini fridge.

Palm Garden Hotel
495 N. Ventu Park Rd. Thousand Oaks, Ca 91320
805-716-4200

Dramatically refreshed and re-imagined aftera spectacular renovation, this contemporary gem is equally suited for business and leisure visits to Thousand Oaks, CA. Encircling a tranquil, beautifully landscaped garden courtyard, stylishly appointed accommodations and exclusive amenities unite less than an hour from some of the most popular attractions in Southern California – from the beaches of Malibu to Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the Santa Monica Pier.

4 Great Conejo Valley Hotels

Guest can wake to our full complimentary breakfast, large comfortable  guest rooms and suites,  a heated outdoor pool with cabanas, a putting green and life-sized chessboard that kids will love! 4 Great Conejo Valley Hotels For a super special stay, the Hollywood Suite is a fabulous two-room space with a pool table once owned by entertainment icon George Burns. Brendan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant on site offers a fun spot for adults to hang out, play pool or darts and dine in warmth and friendly service of a traditional Irish village alehouse, and guests get complimentary drink tickets (1 per adult, per night).

Sheraton Agoura Hills
30100 Agoura Rd, Agoura Hills, CA, 91301
(818) 707-1220

The Sheraton Agoura Hills Hotel has been transformed by a $6 million dollar renovation and features on-site amenities to create a memorable and relaxing stay.

4 Great Conejo Valley Hotels

Enjoy a swim in the outdoor heated pool, unwind in the state-of-the-art fitness center, or enjoy a cocktail by the Liquid Lounge outdoor fire pit.  With so many options like Sheraton’s generally provide, you may never want to leave the hotel.  Located in the rolling hills of the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu, if you do need to escape the Thousand Oaks hotel head for a peaceful escape to Zuma Beach!

For more information on these and other Conejo Valley hotels, visit http://conejo.com/.

My stays at two of the locations listed were part of my media tour, all opinions my own.

Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island! @Aruba

Renaissance Aruba: Everything You Need Plus a Private Island!Traveling for the blog has me in resorts, hotels, cabins, and B & B’s and more and more I’m impressed with the personal touches each new place offers. I’ve stayed in a Renaissance property before, they are known for quality and amenities galore.  But when it comes down to choosing a resort when staying on the island of Aruba, Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino should be your very first choice!  Why? In Aruba’s bustling capital city of Oranjestad you have a variety of choices for accommodations, Renaissance allows a lovely stay with options depending on who you are traveling with.  From  crystal blue pools (and one that changes colors at night), a private lagoon, two casinos, mouth-watering dining, on-site spa, shopping, and the biggest seller and my favorite amenity–access to private beaches at Renaissance Island– you will want to move in and never leave!Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!

Two distinct accommodations can fit the bill if you’re traveling with family or with girlfriends or your loved one.  Ocean Suites offer resort-style pools, a beach area, and a private lagoon that gives families room to explore and play. My husband and I enjoyed a resort room on the Marina Hotel section which is adults only, a nice respite when you want to get away and enjoy a romantic getaway.  Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!With views out our French balcony of the colorful city, we felt comfortable in the King room with cream, white, and blue decor.Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!The gorgeous ocean blue hexagonal tile in the bathroom is perfect for an island resort and the shower has room for two! Now I don’t remember ever complimenting a hotel for their closet space, other than appreciating a safe and perhaps a comfortable robe.  Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!But, the Renaissance Aruba has wallpaper in their closets that will have you wanting to replicate it somewhere in your own home with it’s creative use of island photos and postcards!  At night views from the balcony and the hubub of the city come alive.Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!

Dining on the Marina Hotel side check out  L.G. Smith’s Steak and Chop House for amazing food, we enjoyed steak and drinks our first night.  Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!If you’re looking for a Caribbean style meal, Aquarius serves up contemporary cuisine in a casual setting. BLUE blar is perfect for cocktail hour and they even serve them in the pool if you’d like!  Open for lunch and dinner, you can order sushi to burgers in this casual setting off the lobby.  Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!At night BLUE has DJ’s playing the hottest tunes and you can even find the pool lights move from blue to red to green!  And, if you are a Starbucks addict you will be happy to know there is one on the property, truly blissful to some when you need to have your creature comforts!

Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!I have to admit, I’m a gambler and I was excited to hear that the property boasts Crystal Casino complete with card tables, sports book, and slot machines.  Though I didn’t end up having time to tempt Lady Luck, my husband did put some money on a sporting event but we did not come home with bags of money, let’s put it that way!

My ultimate favorite thing about the Renaissance Aruba was that it’s the only resort in Aruba with it’s own private island accessible to guests only!  It’s island-ception really and who wouldn’t love that?  I mean they literally pull up in a water taxi from the Marina Hotel lower lobby to whisk you about 15 minutes away to another stunningly beautiful location!Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!With your room key you can board the water taxi from  7am-7pm every 15 minutes in the lobby or if you’re staying on the Ocean Suites side, at their dock.  Once you arrive, believe me, you’ll want to stay all day and for the length of your trip!  Upon arriving to Renaissance Island, there are two beaches separated for families and adults-only with complimentary towels, chaise lounges, and if you’re lucky a hammock to enjoy the stunning views!Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island! Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!Flamingo Beach is the adults-only side and literally has flamingos greeting you as you arrive.  Food can be purchase and hand feeding the gorgeous animals is encouraged.  Their beauty is stunning and just adds to the magical island experience!Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!The adult side of the island can leave you feeling free and alive and if that includes going topless for some women, it’s absolutely allowed.  Papagayo Bar and Grill offers grilled fare, fresh salads, wood fired pizza, burgers, and the best tropical drinks around, request the Aruba Arriba!  Waiters will comb the beaches and take your order so if you’re snuggling in the hammock you don’t have to move a muscle!Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island! Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!

My media trip was pretty tight daily with our agenda, but I looked so forward to our free time when it could include a boat ride over to Renaissance Island.  There is something to say about being in paradise with your best friend!  Now a month from our trip, I still daydream about the weather, the views, and moments we shared from that hammock!Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!Whether you are with a group of your best friends (or some you just met ;)), your husband of 18 years, or a family vacation, the Renaissance Aruba is the way to go!Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Plus a Private Island!To learn more, visit http://www.aruba.com your next vacation. When you go, come back and tell me how much you loved it, because I know you will!

Our stay was hosted as part of our media tour, all opinions 100% our own.

Romance on the Riverfront: Napa River Inn Review

Romance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn Review Napa is becoming one of our favorite romantic getaways and it’s a great sign when my husband constantly asks when we were heading back! My answer would be every weekend if possible, with so much good food, great wine, and charming places to stay we are just hooked on the Napa Valley. Right on the very river that I kayaked on almost a year ago is the Napa River Inn, the highest Michelin rated hotel in Downtown Napa. Romance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn ReviewThe Inn is located within the Historic Napa Mill that was a shipping and merchant business in 1884 along the riverfront.  The mill as a warehouse for stocking supplies and wines for local vineyards led by Captain Albert Hatt, designating it a Historic Hotel of America.  It’s a wonderful place to stay with so many great amenities that will have you come back time after time!

I love wine country hospitality at the Napa River Inn.  The welcome glass of wine at check in is a treat after our drive and was happily taken to our room and enjoyed on the balcony overlooking the river.  Romance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn ReviewRomance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn ReviewOur nautical themed Embarcadero Building room included a queen bed and fireplace to make for romantic quarters. The circle mirror reminded me of a porthole combined with the wood paneling, we could have been on a ship.  The view across the river houses the Napa Wine Train, an excursion we included on this very visit.Romance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn ReviewRomance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn ReviewWalking around the property we found the Plaza Building rooms surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens with palms and flowers making us feel like we’re on a tropical island.  We’ll request those rooms next time!Romance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn ReviewRomance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn ReviewOver 20 wine tasting rooms, many fine dining restaurants, and shopping are within a few walking blocks in distance from the Inn, but right on site you have the Napa General Store, Angele, Silo’s (live music, tribute bands, humorists), Sweetie Pie’s Bakery, Vintage Sweet Shop, and Celedon at your fingertips.  Romance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn ReviewThe Vintage Sweet shop offers lots of decadent pleasures and includes wine tasting with or without chocolates and will dip wine bottles in chocolate for unique gift ideas!Romance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn Review

Evenings on the balcony or a walk on the riverfront are romantic and add to the overall charm of the Inn.Romance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn Review

Mornings are the best at the Napa River Inn, probably my favorite part of the stay was Breakfast in Bed!  Included in your stay is a hot breakfast from Sweetie Pie’s Bakery that included for us a ham and egg croissant sandwich and fresh danish, hot coffee, and juice.  Romance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn Review Romance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn ReviewDelivered to your room in a basket, you can immediately hop back into bed with it or cozy up by the fireplace and enjoy it picnic style.  Let me tell you, the food was incredible but those pastries I could buy in bulk.  After breakfast you’ll be sure to be visiting the bakery/cafe to see what else you can sink your teeth into!

Romance on the Riverfront:  Napa River Inn ReviewAfter breakfast indulge in the shower with the invigorating NV Organics body products, the shower is just big enough for two!  With names like Champagne Sparkling and Cabernet you almost are tempted to taste them (just kidding), they are very fitting for wine country and also available for purchase, you’ll love their intoxicating scents!

Stay in bed and enjoy a late checkout upon availability, head out for a leisurely bike ride with the “bicycles to borrow” program, or book a couples treatment at The Spa, possibilities are plentiful! With so many amenities, we will return again and again!  For more information and to book your stay, visit http://www.napariverinn.com/.

Our stay was hosted to provide the review, all opinions always our own.