Friday, June 14, 2013
Six Seasons Down Under, written by Sharael Kolberg, is a story of two Americans who have their personal six seasons in Australia as newlyweds--seasons of emotions and geographic locations. Their time in Australia is spent getting to know the country and each other. Based primarily in Sydney, the story covers forty-five weeks of adventures that range well beyond the parameters of Sydney central, with trips to the hot dry outback desert, wet and tropical Queensland, and lush forests of Tasmania.
The couple encounters some hard times--with missing friends and family, dealing with the noisy neighbors, not having access to good Mexican food, as well as just getting accustomed to the way things work down under--mixed with some unforgettable experiences like being a party of the Olympics, living on the Sydney harbor, exploring the Australian countryside and meeting wonderful people along the way.
Purchase on iTunes for iPad: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/six-seasons-down-under/id598635393?ls=1
Purchase on iTunes for NOOK: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/six-seasons-down-under-sharael-kolberg/1115655625?ean=2940016796215
Posted by Sharael Kolberg at 9:23 PM
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Visitors to Crystal Cove State Park, located in Newport Beach, CA, can enjoy 3.2 miles of beachand 2,400 acres of inland open space. Beach-goers can take a stroll along the sandy shores, explore the tide pools, build sandcastles, wander through the historic district, rent a beach cottage or hop in the ocean to swim, surf or scuba dive. A popular natural attraction in the area are the dolphins.
Guests staying in the Crystal Cove Beach Cottages are allowed to check out a Dolphin Observation Citizen Science Kit to study and learn and more about the dolphins that frequent the shoreline. The free kits are provided by the Crystal Cove Alliance (CCA), the non-profit Cooperating Association partner with Crystal Cove State Park dedicated to education, conservation, and restoration.
The Kit includes the following:
• Learning about dolphins sticker book
• Guide to marine mammals of the world
• Whales and dolphins coloring book
• Newsletter of the American Crustacean Society
• Orange County cetacean behavior notebook
• Exploring Southern California tidepools booklet
The objectives of the science kit are to collect data for a survey about bottlenose dolphins being conducted by the Marine Science Department of Orange Coast College, in Costa Mesa, CA.
Guests are asked to record information such as the weather, date, time of dolphin sighting and for how long, dolphin behavior, number of dolphins, direction of travel, etc.Not only do guests get to marvel at these marvelous sea creatures, but may also help provide research about the ecology of the dolphins off Orange County's coast. It's a fun and educational activity to do especially with children. Kits can be checked out at the Crystal Cove Beach Cottage registration office. Learn more about the citizen science programs at Crystal Cove offered through the Crystal Cove Alliance.
Posted by Sharael Kolberg at 7:47 PM
Whether it's a family vacation that includes hanging poolside, hiking and eating pasta, or a romantic getaway with a fine dining experience, relaxing day at the spa and private golf lesson, you'll find that The Grand Del Mar offers a custom experience that is sure to fit your wants and needs.
Lavish Guest Rooms and Suites at The Grand Del Mar
The resort has 249 rooms and suites that feature lavish Mediterranean decor such as marble counters, showers and floors, crystal chandelier lighting, gold accents, and balconies with impressive views of the scenery.
Most rooms offer the following complimentary amenities:
• In-room wired and wireless Internet access
• Local and 800 number calls
• In-room bottled waters and espresso machines
• Twice-daily housekeeping service
• Daily newspaper delivery – choice at check-in
• Mini Bar (prices vary)
• Self parking
Some suites include a gas fireplace, kitchenette, dining room, living room, or outdoor terrace.
From Five-Star Dining to Poolside Fare at The Grand Del Mar
For a five-star dinner experience, Addison offers award-winning contemporary French cuisine paired with private label wines (bottled exclusively for The Grand Del Mar) in an elegant setting.
For an American cuisine menu with a European influence, try breakfast, lunch or dinner atAmaya. With the look, feel, and taste of the Mediterranean, guests can indulge in menu items such Seared Diver Scallop with Duck Confit and Golden Chanterelle Ragout ($15), Center Cut Rotisserie Pork Chop with Mushroom and Potato Hash and Blue Cheese ($32), or Roasted Duck Breast with Spiced Carrot Puree, Smokey Red Cabbage, and Honey-Roasted Turnips ($32). For $55, guests can try the Chef's Tasting Menu that includes a first course, main course and dessert.
A vegetarian menu is also available and includes items such as Tomato Pappardelle with Tarragon, Tomatoes, and Parmigiano-Reggiano ($16) or Goat Cheese-Stuffed Artichoke Hearts with Pistachio-Sweet Pepper Romesco with Crispy Capers and Arugula ($27).
The resort also features the Club M nightclub, afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge, gourmet coffee and artisan cheese at Cent' Anni, and causal dining poolside.
For a private dining event, The Grand Del Mar offers a variety of options, including the Wine Cellar that seats up to twelve guests in an extravagant 3,450-bottle cellar. One-hour private wine tastings are also available for $95 per person and include up to six wines.
Five-Star Spa at The Grand Del Mar
The award-winning spa at The Grand Del Mar provides a relaxing and peaceful environment with custom treatments that embody their theme of "Renaissance" and incorporate resources from the natural surroundings, such as mineral muds, native herbs and healing botanicals.
The menu of treatments includes Wraps, Facial Therapies, Manual Lymph Drainage, Tried Treatments, and Touch Therapies such as a salt scrub, reflexology or Vichy shower.
The signature 90-minute Renaissance Touch Therapy ($325) includes a mineral-rich mud wrap, Swiss shower with multiple shower heads, and relaxing full body massage, but the most unique part of this therapy is the free-floating bed. Guests sink down into this warm waterbed and are then covered with additional warm water flaps on top to provide them with an experience of being enveloped in a fluid yet snug environment. It allows for twenty minutes of deep relaxation and release of tension.
The spa offers the following complimentary amenities:
• Access to the adults-only Relaxation Pool
• Fitness Center use
• Fitness classes
• 2 hours of Explorer’s Club use for one
• (ages 5—12)
• Valet parking
• Wet and dry saunas
• Indoor whirlpools
• Separate men’s and women’s Relaxation Lounges with fireplaces
• Plush bathrobes and slippers
• Signature hot teas, seasonal muffins and handcrafted chocolates
• All-natural spa products
Outdoor Activities at The Grand Del Mar
With an abundance of open space near the resort, The Grand Del Mar offers a wide variety of outdoor activities.
The Tom Fazio-designed par-72 golf course is situated on 380 acres of manicured fairways and greens with rolling hills, bunkers, and water features. There is also a 5,000-square-foot driving range and 50,000-square foot Clubhouse. Fees range from $215-$250. Private lessons range from one hour to a full day and start at $175.
With 37 miles of canyon preserve trails nearby, guests can enjoy a complimentary Saturday morning four-mile canyon to waterfall guided hike, or book a private hike ($75) for a longer trek or to explore a different area. Another way to see the scenery is by horse or mountain bike. Bike rentals and guided rides are available.
With the coast located only five miles from the resort, guest can take advantage of the courtesy transportation (within 1 14-mile radius), or the complimentary Grand Beach service that includes transportation to/from Del Mar's 18th Street beach; set-up of beach chairs and umbrellas; beach towels and bottled waters. Sailing, surfing and kayaking excursions are also available.
If you'd rather enjoy the amenities of the resort, guests can lounge by the pool or reserve a tennis court.
Green Initiatives at The Grand Del Mar
Located in a such a beautiful natural setting, it's no wonder that The Grand Del Mar has taken steps to preserve the environment. Beyond the elementary green initiatives such as recycling, using energy-efficient lighting and allowing guests to re-use towels and lines, the resort goes above and beyond by using glass, China, and cutlery instead of paper or plastic service ware, strives to serve organic, local and in-season produce on their menu, and offers chemical-free dry cleaning.
To protect their natural setting, the resort utilizes a three-acre lake to contain the water runoff, uses organic fertilizer for landscaping and moisture sensors on the golf course to prevent over watering. These are just a few of the steps that the resort is taking to protect and preserve the local environment and the planet as a whole.
5300 Grand Del Mar Court
San Diego, CA 92130 USA
Posted by Sharael Kolberg at 3:51 PM
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
By Deanne French, Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
Guests and local residents are invited to celebrate Earth Hour through Stories of the Cosmos at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. Held on the Eco-Adventure Center’s Connect the Dots outdoor game board, Stories of the Cosmos is presented complimentary from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, 2013.
The night sky is filled with stars, far off galaxies and endless mysteries. During Stories of the Cosmos, Eco-Adventure Center naturalists will guide guests in discovering the Big and Little Dipper, Hercules, Orion, Pleiades, Taurus and Scorpio, all constellations that can be seen in the night sky from Dana Point in March.
“By holding Stories of the Cosmos outside by candlelight, we are supporting the Earth Hour mission, as well as offering a fun, educational experience for guests of all ages,” said Eco-Adventure Center Director Lyn Evins.
Earth Hour is a worldwide event that encourages households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change.
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel’s Eco-Adventure Center offers unique excursions that inspire participants with Southern California’s unique ecosystems and connect their spirit to their larger global systems. Led by expert naturalists, the Eco-Adventure Center is dedicated to showcasing Southern California’s natural wonders. Through the activities, the local surroundings become a natural classroom and living laboratory. Adults, families and kids learn through experience, which instills them with deep appreciation and respect for nature. As well, they discover how to live more environmentally responsible in their own homes.
Located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel sits on a 150-foot bluff with panoramic white-water views of the Pacific Ocean and two-miles of sandy beach. The resort is a re-imagined surfside retreat that awakens guests’ senses with its unique ocean-front setting and remarkable service heritage. As the premiere destination for travelers who desire a playful approach to Southern California luxury, the resort has been the recipient of many awards over the years, but is proud to boast earning AAA Five Diamond status for the 28th year, the longest in California. For more information or reservations call 800-241-3333, the resort directly at 949-240-2000, a travel professional or visit the web site atwww.ritzcarlton.com/LagunaEcoAdventure.
Posted by Sharael Kolberg at 10:26 AM
Saturday, February 16, 2013
At enoSTEAK, located in the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, guests can sink their teeth into mouthwatering steak that they can feel good about. The steak comes from California-based Niman Ranch, which raises grass-fed, pasture-raised beef with no growth hormones or antibiotics. Not only is this a more healthy option, but it's also kinder to the animals and the planet. In addition, the produce used for the menu is organic, grown locally and harvested at the peak of the season from a local farm, allowing for maximum flavor and a low carbon footprint. Some of the herbs are even picked fresh from the on-site organic garden. “We are fortunate to be in a rich growing region and are thrilled to be able to support our local farmers and offer sustainability-focused cuisine,” said Bruce Brainerd, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.
Each meal starts of with a complimentary liver pate served wtih multigrain ciabatta bread. The pate is served on a custom platter made from recycled wine bottles created by Laguna Beach artist Sandra Jones Campbell. The platter is available for purchase ($20) with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a local non-profit called SEEDS Arts & Education, Inc. that provides children's programs that focus on environmental stewardship, health and wellness, the arts, and family and community building.
For dinner, guests are given the choice of filtered tap water, bottled water or sparkling water. The menu, which changes twice a year, consists of appetizers with a focus on Field (salads), Water (fish), and Farm (meat) with items such as the Smoked and Cured Meat and Cowgirl Creamery Cheese Board served with conrnichons, radishes, and crostini ($14).
The main entrees consist of handcrafted meats and seafood with a variety of steaks to choose from, such as Grilled Prime Bone In New York Steak, Grilled Prime Rib Eye Steak, or Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin. To enhance the flavor, the steak is served with signature compound butters in flavors that include black summer truffle, roasted heirloom tomato, garden herb and garlic, tarragon bearnaise sauce, or the 30i enoSTEAK butter with a hint of curry and cumin. For guests that are vegetarian, although there are not any meat-free items listed on the menu, the chef can typically accommodate dietary restrictions without sacrificing flavor or quality.
Entrees are served a la carte, but there are a number of delectable side dishes ($9) to choose from, such as the sautéed wild mushrooms and petite peas (that includes 14 types of mushrooms), the tri-color cauliflower with romanesco brown butter sage, or the fiscalini and black truffle mac and cheese.
Desserts are fresh and change every two weeks. Some past desserts have been Raspberry Sorbet with Panacotta or Banana Beignets with Nutella Sauce ($13).
The restaurant, which opened in May 2012, gets its name from "oenology," the study of wine. enoSTEAK is a very fitting description since not only do they serve fine steak, but also a large variety of fine wines. There are nearly 40 varieties on the dinner menu, but guests can request the master list that has nearly 200 wines to choose from. The impressive decorative glass "wine tower," that serves as a centerpiece for the restaurant, holds approximately 300 bottles of wine. This is a restaurant that caters to the wine connoisseur.
Executive Chef Pedro Contreras oversees the menu at enoSTEAK, as well as the other on-property restaurants. “With the Pacific Ocean in my backyard and access to fresh produce year round, I am excited to share a diverse and personal culinary experience with our guests,” said Chef Contreras. “I look forward to contributing to the resort’s amazing culinary legacy and I am excited to share my passion for the many cooking-styles I have enjoyed over the years,” added Contreras. Chef Contreras, originally from Venezuela, has more than ten years of experience working for several Ritz-Carlton properties, as well as other resorts, and has a passion for American cuisine.
At enoSTEAK, with good food comes good service. The wait staff is personable, attentive and knowledgeable. Each waiter has an assistant to make sure the needs of the customers are met with proficiency. Water glasses are filled, dishes are cleared, and questions are answered in a timely manner. The waitstaff knows the menu in detail and can anticipate customers' questions so that an answer is readily available. From menu items, to wine, to the artwork, the waiters seem to take pride in knowing what the customers' wants and needs are and being able to meet them.
The ambiance is reminiscent of a gentlemen's ilbrary with comfortable leather chairs, a warm glowing fireplace, dark wood walls and subdued lighting. It's more like dining in someone's swan home rather than at a resort. It is inviting and relaxed.
So, whether you're looking for a place to celebrate a special night out, indulge in some fine food and wine, or treat a business client, enoSTEAK provides excellence all around.
Posted by Sharael Kolberg at 4:34 AM