Posts Tagged ‘where to stay’

A Stay at Las Alamandas in Jalisco, Mexico

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My favorite hammock at Las Alamandas

I recently visited Mexico’s Costalgre for the first time, spending a few nights at Las Alamandas resort. Located about About 120 km south of Puerto Vallarta, getting to the resort takes more than 2 1/2 hours along a long, winding, and frequently bumpy road from the PVR airport. It’s clear from the moment you arrive that the best and worst thing about Las Alamandas is it’s remote location.

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The bougainvillea-filled courtyard

Located on 1,500 acres and with only 16 suites (which can accommodate up to 42 guests), Las Alamandas is incredibly private and the type of property that gets bought out for weddings and celebrations. Old press clippings in the hotel’s library feature images of Hollywood celebrities spending New Year’s Eve here. The hotel has also served as a backdrop for a bunch of catalog and photo shoots. Las Alamandas is also a favorite of honeymooners, again because of it’s privacy and tropical romantic charm.

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Left: colorful stairs Right: welcome drinks served in coconuts

Las Alamandas offers activities from horseback riding to kayaking to fishing. But it’s also a great place to do absolutely nothing. Wifi only works in the common areas, so it’s a great place to unplug and recharge.

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the gorgeous swimming pool

The resort is extremely private, which makes it clear why celebrities might like it so much. There is no way a paparazzi is going to be able to photograph you in an unflattering swimsuit on one of the property’s private beaches. The main stretch of beach, which my Domo Master suite was situated directly above, was experiencing unusually strong wave and current activity due to seismic activity in the Pacific. This was a bummer since it made the beach unusable, but the owner told my husband she had never seen the waves that large before.

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A cozy banquette at Las Alamandas

I stayed in the Domo Master Suite which was large, with a king sized bed, a living and dining area, an outdoor jacuzzi, and seating area. Only the bedroom had adequate air conditioning and fan coverage, so the rest of the indoor space was not all that usable. The patio was nice and used often, with a great hammock and comfy sitting area. The staff would deliver my morning coffee here and it was a very pleasant spot to gaze the Pacific ocean and wake up.

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The living room of our Ocean front master suite

The living room of the Domo Suite was large, but lack of good air-conditioning and a fan made it mostly wasted space.

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flower petals on the bed at Las Alamandas

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One of the daily gorgeous touches at Las Alamandas

The welcome greeting on the King-sized bed. The bed was not the most comfortable, but it was adequate. The bedroom had a fan and small air conditioning unit for when the breezes weren’t enough.

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The master bathroom featured dual sinks

The master bathroom had dual sinks and a fantastic shower which was large enough for two people and had ample water. It was hot during my stay so the outdoor jacuzzi never got used.

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Well-placed hammocks are abundant at Las Alamandas

My favorite amenity, a well-place hammock, is where Las Alamandas truly excels. I was happy spending the afternoon here with a book and a quick call to room service for a round of freshly made margaritas.

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Foosball in the gallery at Las Alamandas

The public spaces in the property are beautiful. There is a gallery complete with a foosball game. The only time I saw other guest was during meal times, hen eating breakfast and lunch at La Palapa restaurant or dinner at Oasis. For more about dining at Las Alamandas, check out my previous post, Mexican Food in GIFs: Dining at Las Alamandas here.

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The view from La Palapa restaurant at Las Alamandas

Las Alamandas was relaxing, rustic, and stylish. The staff was very nice and accommodating. It’s also for those who don’t mind privacy and a bit of a hassle to get there. If you want a bar scene, you’re better off staying in Puerto Vallarta. Las Alamandas’ remote location isn’t close to much of anything, so you should expect to stay on site for your visit (unless you’ve booked excursions through the hotel).

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Margarita with a view

My trip was booked through Suzy Xiu at Smartflyer. You can book directly through the hotel’s website and check out Las Alamandas special offers section here.

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Succulents near the beach

Las Alamandas is great choice for couples and families looking to get away from it all who don’t mind getting to the resort’s location. If you’re not a fan of bumpy roads, the hotel can book you a transfer to and from the Puerto Vallarta airport in a small Piper airplane.

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Left: Current warning sign during my stay Right: unusually strong waves 

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Lookout Point at Las Alamandas

Lookout point on the Las Alamandas property is great place to take in the sunset. The staff can also provide a picnic or cocktails to enjoy while you watch the sunset.

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The beach at Las Alamandas at dusk

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Killer sunset views along the Pacific

Las Alamandas could not be any prettier. It’s easy to see why it’s a popular property to buy out for weddings and other private events.

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If bumpy roads aren’t your thing, book the Piper!

Room rates at Las Alamandas start at about $260 per night.

Las Alamandas Resort
Carretera Federal 200 km 83.5
Costalegre, Jalisco, Mexico

Toll Free US: 1888 882 9616
Toll Free Mexico: 1800 8366640
Tel 52 322 285 5500

​General Information: info@alamandas.com

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Four Hotel Bathrooms to Crush On This Valentine’s Day

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 Clawfoot tub and a chandelier = yes, please!

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I couldn’t help but look back at some of the hotel bathrooms that I’ve met and fallen in love with the past year. Here’s a look at four sexy hotel bathrooms that are guaranteed to put you in the mood for romance.

1) The Ranch at Rock Creek, Philipsburg, Montana

Montana has all kinds of rugged and sexy landscape, and a few upscale resorts that really go next level in terms of service and luxury.

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 Gold foot clawed tub in a barn at the Ranch at Rock Creek

The Ranch at Rock Creek wins my award for outstanding bathroom design because every single room I saw during my stay in March had a incredible bathtub– not just the biggest suite on the property.

2) Most Unexpected Sauna- The Greenwich Hotel NYC

The Greenwich Hotel in Tribeca has become my favorite NYC hotel property because of it’s elegant, understated and cozy vibe. It feels livable.

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Tub fills in 60 seconds + a sauna

There’s a swanky Japanese spa in the basement and a state-of-the-art fitness room, where I’ve found myself next to a movie star on the treadmill, which are nice perks too. But what really blew me away about the Greenwich Hotel? The in-room sauna of the studio suites and freestanding bathtubs that fill in 60 seconds. This being New York, you forsake a walk-in closet for the sauna but it’s only for a few days… you can deal with it.

3) Best View from an Outdoor Shower- Maia Luxury Resort, Seychelles

The view of the Indian Ocean from the villas at Maia Luxury Resort are enough to inspire you to linger and rinse, lather, and repeat again.

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Maia Luxury Resort’s Outdoor Shower, Seychelles

Note: I did not try out the bathtub. It seemed like overkill with the surrounding infinity pool.

4) Best Indoor/Outdoor Bathroom Concept: Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur

Everything about the hippie chic Post Ranch Inn is about indoor/outdoor living… including the free form shower and the killer soaking tub on the patio of the Pacific Suite overlooking, aptly, the Pacific.

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The Indoor shower at the Post Ranch Inn

What makes the soaker tub even more heavenly? Enjoying a glass of California Pinot Noir from the minibar while soaking in it.

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Pinot Noir on the patio of the Pacific Suite

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A perfect Post Ranch Inn sunset

Have you come across an extremely sexy hotel bathroom recently? Let me know in the comments section.

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Guest Post: Great Experience Renting a Paris Apartment Using AirBnB

Editor’s Note: Over the past year I’ve become a fan on AirBnb, the service that allows guest to find rooms and properties in 192 countries. I had a positive experience using them in San Francisco, and my friend, Mike, used them to find an apartment in Paris over the summer. When he sent me a photo of his rental and I noticed a lamp I have in my own living room at home, I asked him to write us his experience as a guest post for the blog. Hope you enjoy the read- Jen

Last year, Jen asked me to write about my experiences traveling to London and Paris with my family – wherein we found accommodations in professionally-managed private and corporate apartments.

This summer, our family returned to Paris for an 11-day visit. Our daughter, now 8 years old, was scheduled for one week of “French camp” at a school in the 16th arrondissement; we wanted to find an apartment within easy commuting distance, but which was also situated in a lively, active neighborhood. These constraints ruled out our preferred Parisian apartment service (Guest Apartment Paris) because the journey from their apartments to the camp would have required 35-40 minutes each morning and afternoon. Conversely, Parisian friends advised against staying close to the school in the 16th, which they deemed too conservative, sleepy and staid.

Detail of a few art pieces in the living room

I started searching anew for rental apartments on VRBO, and found myself once again disappointed by their limited search options, opaque pricing/availability details, and woefully bad photos. Not a thing had changed since I had considered using that service four years ago… Aside from the presence of a spunky new competitor to consider: Airbnb.

I had heard about Airbnb since it launched in late 2008, but never had reason to explore its offerings. Its youth serves it well, as the site feels modern and is intuitive to navigate. Click on “Paris” on the front page and you’re presented with various neighborhoods, tagged by areas of interest. Alternately, you can click on “All Listings” and filter to your heart’s content: Lodging type, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, price range, neighborhood, and targeted amenities. Airbnb search listings feature a live-updating map, showing approximate locations of filtered properties, so you can more easily target a specific corner of a neighborhood or access to a métro (subway) line.

Individual listings on Airbnb are generally very impressive. They use a standard rubric for presenting information, the photos are usually very high quality (Airbnb sends photographers to assist property owners with this), maps and street view are available so you can get a feel for the neighborhood, and a calendar of availability is maintained (sometimes slightly out of date, but better than I’ve found on VRBO). Each listing has a bookings feature that will give you an accurate price for the dates of your intended stay – so you don’t have to negotiate that later on with the owner.

Panorama of the living room

Using their search interface, I quickly narrowed down my search to 3 properties. I sent in requests to all 3 owners for our intended dates. The first to confirm definite availability was the one we booked. The apartment we landed at was a great find – just 2 minutes from a metro station, and 5 minutes by foot to the Seine. We were steps away from the Champs-Elysees, and just two blocks from a grocery store. Amenities in the apartment were everything we needed (washer/dryer, dishwasher, full kitchen, wifi, computer/printer, cable TV, DVD player). The decor was lovely, including tasteful furniture and intriguing art. It was situated on an interior courtyard, making the apartment incredibly quiet and protected from the noise of the city and streets. The stated square footage was over 1900 square feet for 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, an office/gym, and large living room. Best yet: We had all of this for $400 per night – the cost of an entry-level shoebox-sized bedroom in most of the city’s brand-name and boutique hotels.

Airbnb takes great steps to increase confidence and trust between property owners and the renters. They verify mobile phone numbers on both sides, encourage linking your profile to “real-life” networks like Facebook and LinkedIn (to show that you’re a real person), and can even offer Verified IDs to those who send in scans of documents like driver licenses or passports. Also, Airbnb renters pay fees directly to AirBnb, which holds funds until one day after you check in. You don’t have to deal with odd forms of payment (wire transfers, money orders) to complete strangers, and you don’t lose out on your money if the listing was false or misleading.

We were blown away by the ease-of-use and the transparency offered by Airbnb. It put our family at ease and made our stay in Paris a true delight.

Panorama of the courtyard outside the apartment

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