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uberFAMILY: For Posh Parents on the Go

Starting July 14, Uber is making life easier for parents in the DC metro area with the launch of uberFAMILY, their new on-demand car seat option. With the touch of a button and a $10 surcharge, parents can easily request a ride that’s equipped with a car seat.

To develop uberFAMILY, Uber DC teamed up with The Car Seat Lady’s Dr. Alisa Baer, who trained the service’s highest-rated partner drivers on how to safely secure the seats—all of which were manufactured specifically for Uber by IMMI!

In celebration of the launch, Uber DC is kicking things off with a surcharge-free week brought to you by Care.com, the world’s largest online destination for finding and managing family care.
Plus, a Poshbrood Deal!
And, if you’ve not yet joined Uber, we have a special deal for you!

1) Use promo code ‘Poshbrood’ for $25 off your first Uber ride!

2) Download the App, and enter the code.

3) Request uberFAMILY and be connected to a highly-rated driver with a car seat!

What is Uber?
Uber is an app that connects you with a driver at the tap of a button. Request a ride and have a driver curbside in minutes. There’s no need to carry cash. When you reach your destination, your fare is automatically billed to your card on file, and there’s no need to tip. Good for one ride, up to $25, new riders only. Expires 11/1/14. Excludes uberTAXI.

Already have Uber? Simply toggle to your vehicle option at the very bottom of the screen (uberFAMILY is available on both uberX and UberBLACK), and tap the ‘FAMILY’ button above the slider.

To learn more about UberFAMILY, including how to request UberFAMILY on your Uber app and safety details, head to: http://bit.ly/1vXbOjz

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/15 at 06:34 PM
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Sunny Cyprus: Relaxing and Educational Fun for the Family

If you and your posh brood are heading off to Cyprus this summer, you’re sure to fall in love with its incredible natural beauty, postcard-perfect landscapes, stunning beaches and great weather! What’s more, the locals are some of the friendliest, most hospitable people you’ll ever meet.

As the third largest island in the Mediterranean, located to the south of Turkey and east of Greece, there will be no shortage of fun activities! Cyprus is a great destination for everyone: families, history buffs, sun worshipers, party people and those looking for a more active holiday will not be disappointed. And, if you enjoy culinary experiences, there are some fantastic restaurants serving up great local and foreign foods.

Konnos Beach

Soaking up the Sun
Cyprus will definitely cater to your every need if a relaxing vacation is what you’re after. Lying on the beach and soaking up the Mediterranean sunshine is one of the main reasons why people visit this beautiful island, so of course, there are a wealth of beaches to choose from! Konnos beach is very near Ayia Napa on the road from Protaras to Cape Greco and is known for being one of the most picturesque beaches on the island. It’s sheltered, has safe swimming conditions for the little ones, and there’s plenty of room for sunning yourself on the sand.

Fig Tree Bay

Fig Tree Bay
One of the most popular beaches on the island is Fig Tree Bay. This beautiful stretch of sand gets its name from the tree that used to provide shade to the locals—before the beach gained the popularity it now enjoys. However, it’s still very much a big hit with the locals, especially those with young families, because of the more shallow water. A small rocky island just offshore is within swimming distance, and there are even water sport facilities available for the more active among your group.

Le Meridien Limassol

For those seeking something luxurious, and a bit quieter, the private blue flag beach of Le Meridien Limassol in Cyprus’s south coast (in Limassol town) is worth visiting for a more pampered beach-going experience!

Explore the Island by Car
Looking for something other than the beach experience? Renting a car is a fun way to discover Cyprus! The island’s interior is just as stunning as its sun-kissed coastline and, although many overlook it, certainly worth exploring. You can walk the breathtaking Troodos and Kyrenia mountain ranges and roam through citrus groves in the north of the island. If it’s history and culture you’re after, try climbing up to the island’s medieval castles to take in the marvelous views from the top. There is an incredible depth of history in the capital, Nicosia, where the old stone Venetian city walls still surround the city.

All in all, Cyprus has something for everyone, so enjoy your visit to this island paradise!

photo credit: Nino Verde via Wikimedia Commons cc by sa 3.0
photo credit: Romeparis via Wikimedia Commons cc by sa 3.0
photo credit: AyianapaProtaras via Wikimedia Commons cc by sa 3.0
photo credit: Leonid Mamchenkov via Flickr cc

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/11 at 10:01 AM
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Fun in the Sun in Cabo!

Kaley and Ryan in Cabo

Where better to celebrate your six-month anniversary than the Central American paradise of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico? Kaley Cuoco Sweeting and tennis-star husband Ryan Sweeting clearly couldn’t imagine a better place! They made a “big bang” over the holiday weekend partying with family and friends on the beaches of Los Cabos’ Villa La Estancia.

Villa Estancia Pool

If you’re looking for a quick getaway (and the possibility of spotting a few celebrities!) Villa La Estancia is the place. The resort has become a bit of celebrity hotspot by priding itself on offering regal opulence amidst a relaxed and fun setting. The villas on this five-star property are furnished in elegant Spanish Colonial and hacienda-style and feature private balconies and luxurious spa bathrooms.

Villa Estancia Spa

Need more spa time?
Who doesn’t need more spa time?! The on-site Desert Spa is the largest and most elaborate spa in the area. From massages, body wraps and facials to hydrotherapy, couples’ experiences and a full-service beauty salon, you won’t have any choice but to relax. Even the kids don’t get left out of the fun! They can enjoy pampering as well thanks to the Mini Spa. These special spa services are fun, safe and a great way for the younger generation to enjoy relaxing and start developing healthy habits.

Villa Estancia Dining

Amazing Eats
And don’t forget the top-notch gourmet cuisine at La Casona restaurant! The restaurant’s unique layout boasts an impressive open kitchen and an enchanting outdoor dining area all set in a romantic, elegant space making your evening a memorable experience. For a little more interaction, you can sit at the Chef’s Table where Chef Marlon Petrick will create a themed menu cooked right in front of you—with the added bonus that each course is paired with interesting wines from around the world! If you’re looking for a little more romance, you can reserve a private table—Sunset a Deux—and dine surrounded by glowing tiki torches at the ocean’s edge.

Whether you’re celebrating your six-month, six-year or sixtieth anniversary, Villa La Estancia is a great place to kick back and enjoy the sun!

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/08 at 12:47 PM
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Going to the Spa? At The James Chicago, Kids Go Too!

Kid Spa Treatment

Let’s face it, being a kid is a full time job. Sure, it may seem like a fun parade of play dates, amusement parks and cartoons about imaginative four-year olds, but that’s just part of it. A kid’s life in 2014 is full of responsibilities and hard work. Cleaning rooms! Helping with the dishes! Fixing mom’s iPad when it keeps defaulting to the Caillou homepage! Sometimes it seems like a kid’s work is never done.

James Chicago Spa

That’s why it’s important to kick back and take a break sometimes. And thanks to the new KidSpa treatments available at The Spa by ASHA at The James Chicago, your little ones can get in on the spa fun! Two new services are now offered as part of The James’ Lil’ James program, an amenity and experience program tailored for the pre-adult set.

The new treatments available are:
Pure-Fume Aroma
Kids love building things, from Legos to teddy bears, so why not make their spa visit a hands-on, or in this case a “nose-on”, experience? Kids go on a sensory journey by building their own customized Pure-Fume Aroma, relaxing and picking their favorite smells like cinnamon, lavender, licorice or peppermint and blending them to create their own signature scent.
Banana Split Facial
What do we tell our kids? “Don’t play with your food!” Well, at ASHA they’ve thrown that rule out the window with their sweet and fun banana split facial! Enjoy a messy, moisturizing experience with classic banana split flavors infused into the facial. Start with refreshing strawberry, mask in soothing banana, exfoliate with a chocolate scrub and finish off with a massage in moisturizing vanilla. Talk about a delicious spa experience!

James Chicago Guest Room

And after the royal kid treatment, the fun for the whole family doesn’t have to end. The James Chicago offers a variety of impressive services making it the ideal choice for families visiting Chicago. Be sure to take advantage of The James Family Adventurer package  featuring the best of Chicago sights and culture with curated family-friendly activities.

The package includes:
• Four tickets to Chicago Children’s Museum
• Milk-and-cookie turn-down service
Urban Infant upcycled skip rope – jump ropes designed specifically for children that are environmentally safe, being constructed of 100% reclaimed mountain climbing rope
• Welcome amenity for children of a backpack stocked with treats and games

James Chicago Lobby

The Lil’ James program also offers kid-friendly dining menus, books, board games, DVDs, Nintendo Wiis and games along with bikes and helmets for when it’s time to head out for some exploring! At The James Chicago, you’ll never run out of things to do!

Posted by Elizabeth on 07/04 at 11:05 AM
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Celebrate July 4th in Style!

Fireworks

We have some suggestions for amazing family getaways to celebrate Independence Day this year! Whether you love the family fun, the fireworks, the barbecues or all of the above, there’s something for everyone at these incredible vacation spots. So grab your sparklers, pull on your best red, white and blue beach togs and explore the sandy side of the US of A!

El Conquistador Resort

Leading up to the 4th of July, El Conquistador Resort in Puerto Rico offers loads of family-friendly fun to celebrate our independence. Perched high above the ocean on a 300-foot cliff, El Conquistador is a peaceful retreat on the Island of Enchantment, and a great place for you and the fam to relax and have fun! Activities range from water volleyball and a sand castle competition on the resort’s 100-acre private island to a BBQ Lunch, and, just for the parents, the Blackbeard Happy Hour. The celebration continues with Kids Night Out, Coqui Water Park and Dive-In Movies.

Boca Raton Resort and Club

Boca Raton Resort & Club in South Florida is having a 4th of July Holiday BBQ Party that will be sure to put you and your family in a patriotic state of mind. There will be a delicious BBQ buffet accompanied by live music from “Rogue Theory” and DJ Ryan Smith. The kids can play games, go on water slides and enjoy carnival tents, while you enjoy the open bar and dancing. A fireworks display over the intercoastal waterway caps off the night of fun!

South Seas Island Resort

South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island is celebrating Independence Day a little differently this year: instead of celebrating on the 4th, South Seas will be the only resort in the area declaring a celebration on the 5th of July. Guests will get to celebrate Independence Day all weekend long with a golf cart parade, food and beverages on the golf course and a fireworks display over the Gulf.

Casa Marina

Casa Marina in Key West is celebrating Independence Day with their 30th Annual 4th of July Picnic. Complete with fireworks, live music, games, silent auction and a gourmet buffet, you can’t help but have some family fun celebrating! You can even take a peek right now using their live webcam! A portion of the ticket proceeds will go to the Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice of the Florida Keys.

Attending one of these awesome celebrations? Let us know below in the comments!

photo credit: Anna Cervova via Public Domain Images

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/30 at 07:16 PM
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Digital Babysitter? Taking the Technology When You Travel

Tween texting

Although it’s true family vacations should be spent bonding, there are certainly times when the kids need a diversion so parents can have a moment of peace. When used in moderation, and with clear guidelines, technology doesn’t have to be a proverbial four-letter word that takes away from the overall experience. It can be an excellent method for keeping kids occupied—especially on long rides. Today we have a few tips for enhancing your vacation while keeping the technology as a diversionary tactic!

Rules Before Traveling
Before you load up the car or get on the plane, make it clear that vacation is a chance to enjoy each other’s company, and that technology will be reserved for specific situations. Advise the kids that even you will be adhering to this rule—and then stick to it! This gives everyone a sense of being on equal ground, and the kids are less likely to complain if you’re following the rule diligently as well!

Road Trip!
Long rides are where you may need assistance from technology the most. Make sure your child’s device has enough material so he or she won’t get bored, because the calmer the kids are, the easier the travel experience will be. The added stress of unruly bodies in the back seat can ruin your mood as well as the vacationing experience. And, the travel itself, while it may be beautiful and scenic, doesn’t have to be a strict bonding moment. Giving the kids time to engage in a solo activity can keep their minds from becoming restless—and the squabbles to a minimum!

iPad Vacation

Leave the Tech in the Room
Once you arrive at your destination, the rule should be “No tech on tours.” Leave all devices except for phones in the hotel room. Not only will this reduce the chances of devices being lost or stolen, it will allow the family to enjoy what is surely an interesting and beautiful locale. If your child wants to bring their device to take pictures, you’ll have to commit to enforcing the no games or social media rule. The vacation is to be a special moment shared with the family, not Facebook! Experiencing the moment is important, so posting the exciting adventures of the day can wait until you get back to the hotel.

Kids at Campfire

Exceptions to the Rule
When you’re on vacation as a family, it’s imperative that you include attractions the kids will find interesting. While you don’t have to spend the entire time sitting in an amusement park, unless that was your intention, adding a few sites to your itinerary that are engaging for young minds keeps them from missing their screens.

Technology doesn’t have to be a bad addition to your vacation as long as it’s used sparingly. Setting rules for screen time while including child-friendly areas can improve the vacationing experience for even the most technologically diverse child. Enjoy the company of loved ones but realize the potential technological diversions can have for stressful moments and preventing mischief bred from boredom.

Always curious, Ashley Hardway is constantly learning and passionate about sharing what she learns with others. Based in the Houston, Texas office of Morningside Nannies, she loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Check out @NannyLady on Twitter to connect and find out more.

photo credit: Carissa Rogers via Flickr cc
photo credit: Håkan Dahlström via Flickr cc
photo credit: Chris Reed via Flickr cc

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/27 at 02:20 PM
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Family Fun at the Punta Mita Beach Festival

Hotel Room St. Regis

Looking for a beach lover’s paradise that’s tons of fun for both parents and kids? Well look no further than the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, situated at the Riviera Nayarit, just north of Puerto Vallarta, and be just in time for their second annual Punta Mita Beach Festival, taking place July 17-20, 2014.

St Regist Festival

The whole family can enjoy the many activities scheduled for guests, including:
- Snorkeling and diving in the crystal clear waters around the caves of Las Marietas Islands. Diving instruction and excursions to gorgeous locations lead by National Geographic Explorer of the Year Dr. Kenny Broad!
- Enjoy the unique experience of Stand Up Paddling, with clinics taught by paddle professional Javier Alvarez Pintado
- And once you’ve mastered Stand Up Paddling, put your skills to the test with the two- and five-kilometer races departing from the Sea Breeze Beach Club
- Punta Mita Expeditions offers Marine Safaris on the island, including snorkeling and Stand Up Paddling
- Volleyball tournaments for the athletically inclined
- Find your center with poolside family yoga classes taught by yogi Ana Paula Dominguez
- Catch some waves with celebrity surfer Jamie O’Brien in his beginner and advanced surfing classes, as well as day trips to Bahia Break or La Lancha
- Bring out your inner architect with the kid-friendly sand castle competition
- Sunrise and Sunset paddling with music by DJ Mauricio Lemus

Festival 2 St. Regist

The festival brings together all the great activities available to guests at Punta Mita and features activities and culinary delights that will entice the entire family to join in. There will be beach and water activities, games and competitions, tons of food and drink at beachfront barbecues and bonfires, and dancing the night away under the stars in this coastal paradise, one of the best and most exclusive beach addresses in the world.

Restuarant and Pool St. Regis

The three-day festival package includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, non-alcoholic and adult beverages and accommodations, each with exceptional services, including Punta Mita’s famous butler service! Add to this the Remède Spa, three amazing restaurants—Las Marietas, Sea Breeze, and the signature restaurant, Carolina—and a sumptuous bar, Altamira, and there will be plenty of distractions for adults as well as kids!

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/23 at 06:53 PM
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East Coast Summer Family Road Trip – Preferred Family Style

I know that it’s easy to wince when family “road trip” is mentioned. We think of the Griswold’s misadventures in National Lampoon’s Family Vacation. Long uncomfortable drives, the kids asking every five miles “Are we there yet?” and staying in slightly sketchy roadside motels.

road trip

Nightmare? Yes. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In addition to planning for your road trip to avoid drama (did you recharge all the iPods/iPads?), planning your road trip around Preferred Family hotels will make your journey a real holiday.

With a global reach extending into more than 85 countries, Preferred Hotel Group represents more than 650 of the finest hotels, resorts, and serviced residences in the world. Their family hotel program—Preferred Family—has over 270 participating luxury hotels located all over the world and are adding new properties every day! From cities to resorts, Preferred Family hotels and resorts welcome families with special amenities and activities, catering to the unique needs of travelers of all ages.

Their website, http://www.preferredfamily.com, makes family travel planning a cinch.

As we plan our annual summer road trip from Washington, DC to Maine, I’ve already plotted out our Preferred Family course to make the journey there a vacation in itself instead of a calamity.

On our way out of town, we typically stop around NYC or CT for the night. This year, I have my eye on the Grand Summit Hotel in Summit, New Jersey, built in 1868 and just 30 minutes from NYC.

The historic property is right off our driving route, has large, connecting family rooms and an outdoor pool to exercise the littles after a four-hour drive. Families with younger kids can get cribs, high chairs, car seats, boosters, rollaways and pack and plays.

           

Day two I would like to stop at The Colonnade Boston Hotel and check out the recent $25M renovation. This Four Diamond boutique hotel is in the heart of everything in the Back Bay/Copley Square neighborhood. It’s near Fenway Park,the Museum of Fine Arts, and Copley Square Mall.  It’s a quick stroll to Newbury Street—eight blocks of historic 19th Century brownstones and fabulous salons, boutiques, and dining spots.

 

The Colonnade Boston hotel has a Rooftop Top Pool, 11 stories up in the Boston skyline. Glamorous and safe – they also have a lifeguard on duty at all times. In addition, the Colonnade offers Preferred Family amenities like connecting rooms and suites, no charges for kids staying with parents, cribs, highchairs, bottle warmers, baby proofing kits as well as baby shampoos and soaps.

After a lovely week in Maine, we will regrettably start our drive back to DC. We will be a bit blue so we’ll head to the Adirondacks to visit a resort that has long been on my bucket list—The Sagamore Resort on Lake George. The Sagamore Resort is an historic AAA Four-Diamond resort that has been welcoming families for over 125 years.

Overlooking a sparkling lake, this classic inn provides year-round entertainment for all ages, perfect for family vacations in New York. Relax with a spa treatment, hit the golf course, or enjoy a leisurely meal at the hotel’s family friendly restaurants. In addition to standard Preferred Family amenities like connecting rooms, cribs and Kids Club, The Sagamore has a bevy of activities such as boat rides, sailing, fishing, story time, arts and crafts, indoor and outdoor pools, jungle gym, s’mores, horseshoes and indoor mini golf.

 

Traveling with a brood can be expensive. So extra amenities and perks can really help the budget. Free breakfast? Yes, please!

Preferred Hotel Group’s iPrefer program is a points-based loyalty plan that offers benefits at more than 500 independent hotels and resorts worldwide and more than 200 are Preferred Family Certified. Families that join the program start earning status, special benefits, and points from their very first stay and have the freedom to choose the reward that works best for them, whether they want free stays, dining, spa services, and more.

A Note from Poshbrood: This post brought to you in partnership with Preferred Family. All opinions are my own, as always.

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/23 at 02:17 PM
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What Could be Cuter than a Teddy Bear Picnic? Nothing!

Teddy Bear Picnic

Planning a family mountain getaway to High Hampton Inn this summer? Don’t forget to pack your favorite teddy bears! Each July, the Inn’s famous mascot, Hampton Bear, makes a special appearance and invites all the visiting children to join him in celebrating his birthday with the Teddy Bear Picnic! This year’s Teddy Bear Picnic takes place on July 7th with an all-day celebration for Hampton Bear’s 28th birthday. The festivities begin in the morning when Hampton Bear visits with the children during breakfast and doesn’t end until bedtime. Children and their parents are encouraged to bring their favorite teddy bears and enter them into the various contests held throughout the day. Hampton Bear will also lead children on a Treasure Bear Hunt and teach them about the history of the teddy bear. At the end of the day, parents and children relax over a picnic-style supper followed by games and even more entertainment! 

Teddy Bear Picnic

The 28th annual Teddy Bear Picnic takes place at the High Hampton Inn in Cashiers, North Carolina—the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains—on July 7th, 2014 from breakfast until bedtime!

The event is open to guests of High Hampton Inn. To R.S.V.P. for the party, please visit http://www.highhamptoninn.com or call (800) 334-2551.

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/20 at 12:01 AM
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Enjoying the Gilded Age in Newport, RI

Vanderbilt Grace Facade

If you’d like to see what the Gilded Age looks like in today’s world, book a room at the Vanderbilt Grace in Newport, Rhode Island. One of the city’s many historic mansion treasures, it was built by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt in 1909 and is now a boutique property with 33 rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa, restaurant and a rooftop bar with killer views of Newport Harbor. The hubby and I got married just a few blocks away at another hotel five years ago, and although we made a blood pact to come back to Newport every year to celebrate, mother nature got in the way and two babies later, this was our first weekend without our kids! Luckily, I couldn’t have picked a more romantic spot for our five-year wedding anniversary.

Christy Room_Vanderbilt

Upon Arrival
There’s snobby, stuffy luxury, and there’s warm, inviting hotels staffed with kind, knowledgeable locals. To our delight, the Vanderbilt Grace turned out to be the latter. Upon arrival, we handed our keys to the valet. A nice touch was that we were immediately offered champagne that we sipped while we met with the concierge who helped plan our weekend. Prior to our arrival we had been emailed a questionnaire asking for our choice of room scent (I picked eucalyptus!) pillow texture (soft, down) and included options for families such as having diapers and wipes waiting in the room, monogrammed robes and even meals and treat menus for pooches!

Junior Suite_Vanderbilt


Deluxe Comfort, Superb Styling
Our room was a Junior Suite and offered a kitchenette, minibar, coffee machine, king-sized bed and custom-made bookcase separating the sitting area from the bedroom. These rooms can be interconnected with other suites which works well for families or groups. Travelers looking for more of a view can opt to stay in a corner suite with dual views of the historic Trinity Church and the harbor. Because I spend most of my days in spit-up covered clothes, I immediately changed into one of the two lush robes and drew a bath in the soaking tub. You can rent movies free at the front desk, and I picked The Great Gatsby. It was fun to think the Vanderbilt was standing proud during the time period of the film!

Incredible Activities
The Vanderbilt has a ton of fun activities for singles, couples or the whole family. Be sure to call ahead as some are in-season only. Visitors can choose from weekend tea ($18pp, 2-4pm), Cooking classes ($95pp), yoga on the roof every Saturday in summer ($15 pp, 9:30-10:30am) and cigar night every Tuesday in summer (6-8pm). Wednesday night is movie night (8:30pm) and Thursdays have wine and cheese tastings! Children are always 50% off.

Walkable Ideas
I got a lot of my activity ideas from Discover Newport. I’ve stayed in Newport many times but never this close to the water. It was great to walk to town in less than five minutes. We often popped back to the Vanderbilt to change clothing or drop off a shopping bag. On Friday, we continued the early 1900’s vibe and took a harbor cruise on the 49-seat Rum Runner 2—a classic motor yacht built for two New Jersey mobsters during Prohibition. The tour guide gives a speaking history behind both the mansions along the waterfront, and surprisingly, several America’s Cup-winning sailboats anchored in the harbor. On Saturday, we walked the entire town, from the famous Cliffwalk to the Tennis Hall of Fame, to the cute, boutique shops on Thames Street. I scored a $40, 1939 poster of Chevrolet cars for my son’s room in the Newport Armory, an 1894 building open Mon - Fri, 6am - 4:30pm; Sat, 7am – noon.

Conservatory_Vanderbilt

Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Breakfast is served daily from 7:30 to 11:00am in the Conservatory, a pretty, glassed-in room just off the lobby with both a buffet (included with room) or separate menu. You can look out on the gardens and outdoor pool and read a choice of several national newspapers. I had the scrambled eggs from a local farm and had a hard time when I returned home buying store-bought eggs again—they were that tasty! For dinner, my hands-down favorite place to eat in Newport is The Black Pearl where we went Saturday night. “When I retire, I just want to be a barnacle on a barstool at the Black Pearl,” my husband told me. The outside bar sits directly on the water and the more formal dining room inside opens at 6pm. Go early and grab a table near a window and order either the scallops with lobster in puff pastry or the twin New England lobster tails and award-winning clam chowder. If you don’t feel like venturing out for dinner, there’s the Hotel Vanderbilt’s own Muse by Jonathan Cartwright open daily 6-9:30pm. Dress is tasteful (no sneakers or sports clothing) and it’s run by chef Jonathan Cartwright who is also the executive chef at sister hotel The White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, Maine.

Castle Hill Inn_Vanderbilt

During our boat cruise on the Rumrunner 2, we passed the Castle Hill Inn and decided we, too, wanted to sit in bright white Adirondack chairs on the mansion’s sprawling lawn and be served wine while looking out at the Atlantic. While we caught the beginning of the hot pink, tangerine and mauve sunset here, we followed its downward journey by hopping back in the car, driving to the Vanderbilt and having more wine on the rooftop bar. Be sure to ask for a blanket, as the breeze off the water can be chilly.

If I ever find myself with another bun in the oven, I am totally coming back to try the mummy-to-be special package:

- Two-nights deluxe accommodation
- Daily breakfast for two and herbal teas, fresh fruit, etc…
- Samples of APIVITA natural beauty products
- Pre-natal yoga in the morning
- Mommy-to-Be massage
- Butler draw bath per request
- Soft white blanket and a plush toy for baby

The starting price for the two-night package at low season is $800, mid-season is $950, high season is $1150 and peak season is $1290. The Vanderbilt Grace was totally worth it, and we had a great time!

Thanks to guest poster Kate Rockland, cool Connecticut mom of two sons and a cat, for this post! Kate is a former preschool teacher and editor for Rolling Stone, Teen Vogue, New York Magazine and Us Weekly. You can find out more about Kate at her website: www.katerockland.com

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/17 at 01:58 PM
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Where’s Tommy? Exploring Washington DC!

Get ready for one of the most adventurous self-guided tours yet! Named a “Best Hotel in the World” by Conde Nast Traveler, The Jefferson DC hotel in Washington DC is offering an adventurous activity to get visitors out on a wholesome, happy, instructional history tour of the nation’s capitol.

Make sure to energize with a good breakfast before attending a short lesson on the city’s past with The Jefferson’s in-house, on-staff Washington historian. Afterwards, grab the kids and head out by foot or roll out on one of the bright red Capital Bike Share rentals and in the company of a Thomas Jefferson cut-out figure! You’ll be well on your way with a map full of destinations having a strong Jefferson connection. When you arrive at each location, document your presence by taking a picture of Tommy with your smart phone, and upload to Instagram with the handle @TheJeffersonDC and hashtag #WheresTommyDC. The fun lasts all day so the hotel will even pack up a Jefferson Mobile Meal to go with a Chef’s Choice Sandwich and all the tasty snacks you will need to keep your legs trekking across the city.

Those who complete all destinations and return to The Jefferson are rewarded with a seasonal treat and a Thomas Jefferson bobble-head commemorating their tour. And those who want to extend the adventure are now able to participate in the hotel’s new “Where’s Tommy on Vacation?” contest for a chance to win an overnight stay at The Jefferson, Sunday Supper for two in Quill or Brunch for two in Greenhouse! To view contest details, visit www.wherestommyonvacation.com.

The Where’s Tommy? Summer Package at The Jefferson, DC runs from June 1 – September 7, 2014 and, in addition to the fun tour gives 20% off their best available rate with the option of “Kids Rate” at 50% off second room (applicable for guests 12-18 years old).

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/13 at 08:30 AM
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Real-Life Disney Vacation Homes Your Kids Will Never Want to Leave!

The kids love the Disney movies, but what if you’re just over the hustle and bustle of visiting the parks? How about some real world movie sets come to life? Below we have five vacation spots that feel just like you’re stepping into your family’s favorite movie. Anyone can visit Disneyland, but not everyone can vacation at the real-life inspirations!

Frozen

First up—it has to be Frozen!
You’re probably over the soundtrack (or maybe not!) but, either way, you’ll be delighted to visit Ft. Lauderdale (just in case the cold does bother you) and stay in Elsa and Anna’s castle. With eight bedrooms and 10 baths, you can invite the entire extended family to stay. Hang out inside this gated, tropically-landscaped private estate and pretend it’s an eternal winter or go outside to the eight-person hot tub and pool to find out what happens to frozen things in summer!

Aurora

Don’t touch that spindle!
How about a visit to Aurora’s castle in Sleeping Beauty? This castle in Dollarberg, Scotland is a picture perfect fit. With only two bedrooms, the castle is a bit smaller than Anna and Elsa’s place, but the beautifully landscaped grounds and country setting will charm you for sure. The location is also convenient for the non-Disney history buff to visit Braveheart country (Stirling Castle, Wallace Monument & Bannockburn) and other historic sites.

Mulan

Girl power is strong here
This serene and peaceful getaway bears a striking resemblance to Fa Mulan’s home in Mulan. Possibly more appropriate for a romantic getaway without the kids this 1800sqft traditionally carved wood structure contains a luxurious master bedroom, master bath with indoor and outdoor showers, full gourmet kitchen, living and dining room areas, wrap around covered terraces, a large stone pool side terrace and its own infinity edged pool. You’ll find all the relaxation and peace you’ve been craving in this beautiful getaway!

Ariel

Prince Eric’s Castle
Who didn’t wish for a mermaid tail and a chance with Ariel’s Prince Eric? You still might not get that chance, but now you can at least stay in his home in Kalkan, Turkey. Another chance to invite the extended family, this tranquil location boasts five bedrooms and baths and sleeps 10 comfortably. With a private drive, secluded gardens and a huge pool, you’ll never want to leave!

Frog

The Princess and the Frog
Fancy a visit to New Orleans for those leisurely warm summer nights on the Bayou? Why not stay at the mansion of Tiana’s childhood friend, Charlotte, in the heart of the Garden District (the terrifying American Horror Story is also shot here)! The 20,000sqft residence has six bedrooms and 6.5 baths along with 48 monumental Ionic and Corinthian fluted cypress columns and a seemingly endless number of verandas, ornate cast-iron and floor to ceiling windows. The house is one of the finest examples of Southern ante-bellum architecture.

Didn’t see your favorite movie listed? There are actually even more Disney-inspired vacation spots from E! Travel and HomeAway!

photo credits: Walt Disney Studios, Homeaway.com, E!Online

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/10 at 03:17 PM
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Luxurious Cotswold Haunts – Dining in Style

Cotswolds

Fancy taking your own whistle-stop tour of the Cotswolds? Kids love to try new places and foods? This dashing destination is home to a number of excellent boutique hotels, elegant shopping destinations (like the spa town of Cheltenham) and excellent eateries. Here’s a look at local favorite luxury dining venues.

Slaughter Inn Cotswolds

The Slaughters Country Inn, Lower Slaughter
The Upper and Lower Slaughter villages are the epitome of Cotswold beauty, so a stop at the Slaughters Country Inn is bound to appeal to those who want to settle in the most picturesque country setting. This classy venue combines old and new in a mix of traditional and contemporary stylish features and elegant yet unstuffy setting. It’s luxury pub dining at its best! Their menu goes with the season so expect fresh salads on the Inn’s terrace come summer or a hearty pie and mash come autumn-winter.

Buckland Manor Cotswolds

Buckland Manor, Near Broadway
Connoisseur of food and wine? Then make sure you head to Buckland Manor, a Cotswold highlight for those interested in award-winning cuisine! This venue has quite the reputation for its seasonal ingredients, local produce and delicious dishes served up by head chef Will Gutherie. Located in an ideal setting, the manor has its own herb garden for the freshest fragrances and a brilliant wine cellar for the finest selection of vino.

The Feathers Cotswolds

The Feathers, Woodstock
Based near the gates of Blenheim Palace, the Feathers is a hotel and restaurant in Woodstock. A truly chic venue for a sophisticated evening meal where classic English dishes are on the menu. The restaurant here is casual yet upmarket, but you’re also welcome to dine in the more laidback setting of the bar or the delightful courtyard garden. And, if you fancy a drink after the kids go to bed, their Courtyard Gin Bar holds the Guinness World Record (TM) for serving the greatest number of gin varieties—181 and counting!

The Village Pub, Barnsley
The simple name of this fashionable take on a traditional pub may suggest it’s lacking in superfluity, yet the list of frequent celebrity diners would suggest otherwise. This Cotswold gem is known to be a favorite of Kate Moss, Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant to name a few. Enjoy the elegant surroundings as you dine on fine country fare with a distinctively high-end twist. Here, you’re likely to snack on quail eggs or feast on local venison.

Made by Bob Cotswolds

Made by Bob, Cirencester
For a touch of the refined at lunchtime, visit the bustling and sophisticated café ‘Made by Bob’ based in the center of Cirencester town. This busy deli and café within Corn Hall is run by food hero Bob Parkison (ex-head chef of Bibendum.) Expect modern cuisine that mixes British and European flavors with quality produce and faultless presentation—a refreshing stop for an exceptional light bite.

The Daffodil Cotswolds

The Daffodil, Cheltenham
If you’re staying in the Cotswold ‘capital’ of Cheltenham, a regency spa town with a flourishing cultural reputation, a stop at The Daffodil will not disappoint. This unique restaurant is located in the town’s first picture palace built in 1922. Alongside the beautiful art deco setting, you can expect rich and dramatic dishes, an excellent wine menu and, on some evenings, the addition of live jazz.
 
If you’re interested in visiting any or all of these venues during your stay in the Cotswolds, we suggest using a travel planning tool like Amadeus.net to organize your vacation and share with friends. If you’ve visited any of these places already, let us know in the comments below! If you haven’t yet, which will you try?

photo credit: W. Lloyd MacKenzie via Flickr

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/06 at 01:37 PM
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Beyond the Pubs and Resorts: Benidorm Luxury

Skyline Benidorm

When you think of Benidorm, chances are you think of all-inclusive accommodation, English pub grub and karaoke, but there’s a whole other side to this Costa Brava destination that’s all about luxury and style! This week we’re featuring just a few of the ways you can tap into this popular Spanish destination’s finer charms while you’re on your holidays to Benidorm:

Costa Brava Spain

Charter a Yacht
The Costa Brava is renowned for its coastline and beaches with mountains, secluded bays and crystal clear waters. To experience it in style, charter a yacht or private boat and head out into the Mediterranean. A number of companies in Benidorm offer this type of trip complete with an experienced skipper. This gives you and the family the opportunity to sunbathe, dine and enjoy the views as you sail around the coast.

Enjoy Top-Notch Cuisine
Benidorm might be best known for its “best of British” cuisine, but head away from the English pubs, and you’ll find a range of local and luxury offerings that are a treat for the taste buds. For starters, there’s loads of fresh fish! Lobster, clams, monkfish and squid are all local specialties with fresh catch dominating the menus in many of the town’s best restaurants. Head to the Playa de Poniente district for stylish, upmarket eateries and indulge in some of Alicante’s classic dishes. We recommend the top-notch offerings at Ulia and Barranco Playa! For lunch and snacks, head to the authentic eateries along Tapas Alley and enjoy the seasonal local flavors.

Santa Barbara Castle Spain

Book a Private Tour
There’s plenty to see in the region around Benidorm, so enjoy the highlights on a private guided tour to hilltop villages like Guadalest. Benidorm is only a forty-minute drive from Alicante through some amazing mountain scenery, and when you arrive a stylish seaport with charming attractions will be waiting to welcome you. Don’t forget to visit Alicante’s sixteenth-century castle and collection of fine museums!

With fine dining and private tours to help you enjoy the very best of Spanish luxury and style, Benidorm certainly has more to it than meets the eye!

photo credit: Alemanito via Wikimedia Commons
photo credit: Gabriele Delhey via Wikimedia Commons
photo credit: Gabirulo via Wikimedia Commons

Posted by Elizabeth on 06/03 at 09:10 AM
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Tokyo Brings the Culture and Fun to Vacation Time!

Jessican Alba and Family at Tokyo Disneyland

Looking for an opportunity to visit another country this summer? There are lots of celebrities visiting Tokyo, from Jessica Alba to Justin Bieber, and we hear it’s the place to be! Between the top-notch service, the superb shopping opportunities and the incredible culture, you won’t be disappointed!

Tokyo Hyatt

Where to Stay
We love the Park Hyatt Tokyo! Featured in the movie Lost in Translation, the hotel offers nothing less than 5-star services and amenities including plasma televisions and spectacular views of Tokyo. In addition to featuring a variety of dining options—including the New York Grill and New York Bar—Park Hyatt Tokyo offers wonderful spa treatments at its Club On The Park spa. The on-call concierge team will set up activities in Tokyo for you and the family. Kids will love going to a local Kabuki theater and attending a Sumo Tournament!

Tokyo DisneySea

What to Do
You definitely don’t want to miss out on the amazing cultural experience of Japan, but it’s also a lot of fun to visit Tokyo Disneyland!  Tokyo Disneyland features many of the same rides as other Disney Resorts (including FastPass!), but also great Japanese-only touches like Cinderella’s Castle and DisneySea.

Himeji Castle

To truly get out and experience the Japanese culture, it’s easy to leave Tokyo using their amazing public transportation system. For example, Himeji Castle (pictured above) is a Japanese castle from the feudal period and is the best surviving example of this type of architecture.

Of course, shopping is a main attraction in Tokyo. There are several high-end shopping districts, for fashion, technology and dining. When visiting Tokyo, you and the kids will definitely never run out of things to do!

Posted by Elizabeth on 05/30 at 11:51 AM
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