Thursday, July 21, 2016

Unplug and Unwind at These Remote Destinations

Guest Post by Jen O’Neal,

Need help breaking your family’s technology addiction? has put together 5 completely off-the-grid vacation rentals that will allow you and your family to get totally, 100% unplugged. From remote Caribbean beach-front stays to tracking wildlife during an elephant safari, you and your kiddos will be so immersed in the travel moment that you may just forget your Password ID…all of them!

  Beautiful Home near San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

   Traditional Home near the remote village of Tapalpa, Mexico (near Puerto Vallarta)

   This unique home in Southeastern Wyoming is next to a 1000 acre animal sanctuary, and boasts a 40 mile unobstructed view!

   This two bedroom traditional chalet on the Zambezi River in Zambia may mean people have to double up, but it’s worth it for the incredible privacy, views, and being within driving distance of two national parks and Victoria Falls

   This six bedroom luxury villa in Thailand is just a short drive from Chiang Mai, but it feels like a world away, surrounded by Southeast Asian jungle plants and animals

Founded by Jen O’Neal in 2009, has become the world’s largest meta-search platform for vacation rentals. Partnering with major vacation rental sites such as HomeAway, Wimdu, VRBO, FlipKey,, and more, aggregates over 8 million listings in more than 150,000 cities into a Kayak-like model and allows travelers to easily compare vacation rentals across providers. Headquartered in San Francisco,’s mission is to help travelers find the perfect place to stay on their next trip.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Swanky JW Marriott Los Angeles

Just a short drive from Orange County is the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live hotel. It is the perfect place to crash after catching a concert at the Staples Center, to chill at the rooftop pool and full-service spa, or to indulge in a variety of dining experiences. It is also a green hotel.

Green Awards for JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live
The JW Marriott Los Angeles has made a commitment to environmental stewardship and has the awards to prove it. The hotel is Certified Silver LEED and is a Trip Advisor’s Green Partner.

Guest room at the JW Marriott Los Angeles

Plush Rooms at JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live
Most of the 805 rooms have a view of the Los Angeles cityscape from the 21 floors. The beautiful marble bathrooms and plush bedding provide a pampered feel for guests. Guest rooms are available with one king or two double beds. They do not offer two queens, which can be difficult for families with more than one child. Rollaway beds and cribs are available, but it might be tough to fit more than one. All rooms are non-smoking. Pets are not allowed. Executive Level rooms have access to the Executive Lounge, which provides self-service breakfast, snacks, appetizers and desserts for up to two people for an additional $75 fee.
Room amenities:

  •  Coffee maker/tea service
  •  Individual climate control
  •  Iron and ironing board
  •  Bathrobe
  •  Hair dryer
  •  Safe
Ford's Filling Station at the JW Marriott Los Angeles
On-Property Dining at JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live
There is no shortage of meal options at this hotel. In addition to room service, the following on-property dining is available:

  • Illy Espressamente: Grab a pastry, latte and more at this coffee bar.
  • gLAnce Lobby Bar: Great people watching and refreshments in the lobby.
  • The Mixing Room: Hot spot for late-night cocktails.
  • NEST at WP24: Casual Asian-inspired fare and extensive wine list available at this modern lounge.
  • WP24 by Wolfgang Puck: Fine Chinese dining with a spectacular view of the city from the 24th floor. Choose a three of four-course menu and select from the 400 labels of wine to compliment the meal.
  • Ford's Filling Station L.A. LIVE: Located in the lobby, this hotel staple restaurant offers sustainable, seasonal cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. The menu strives to blend west coast flavors and southwest influence. Created by Chef Ben Ford (actor Harrison Ford’s son), the restaurant’s specialty is the Whole Pig Dinner that serves eight to ten people. The meal is based on market rate, but averages about $800 and includes the entire pig, a Pig Head Salad (pickled tongue, crispy pig ears, bourbon maple pork belly), several side dishes and dessert. Must be ordered eight to ten days in advance.
To add tenderness and flavor to meat items in the menu, there is an onsite smoker fired with a blend of apple, pecan and cherry wood. Depending on the season, the menu might offer items such as the Cured Meat Board with Salami Calabrese, Iberico Chorizo, Smoked Wild Boar Salami, Bresola Mustard and Country Loaf ($19), Roasted Grape & Gorgonzola Flatbread Pizza with Pistachio Pesto, Saba, and Mizuna ($15), Hand-Cut Pasta with Tomato, Summer Squash, Stracciatella Cheese, and Basil ($21), Braised Beef Cheeks with Fregola, Root Vegetables, Shitake Mushrooms, and Salsa Verde ($36), or Butterscotch Pudding with Mascarpone Cream, Pecan, Candied Bacon and Sea Salt ($11). Chef Ford is also author a “Taming the Feast,” a guide to outdoor grilling, smoking, and roasting. The book focuses on adventurous cooking for large parties.

Ritz-Carlton Spa Los Angeles
Pampering at the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Los Angeles
The 8,000-square-foot spa, accessible from the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live elevator, is a lavish indulgence for the entire body. Guests can start their spa experience by sipping a complimentary glass of champagne in the co-ed Sanctuary with opulent modern d├ęcor that includes reclining chairs and round daybeds, chandeliers and monitors playing soothing ocean scenes, or the private men’s or women’s Relaxation Room with white leather chaise lounge chairs, soft lighting and tranquil music. Guests are encouraged to check in early and take advantage of the amenities, such as the Eucalyptus steam rooms and cold plunge showers.

Treatment options include Touch Therapy and Massage, Facials and Peels, Body Treatments, Nail Services, Signatures Experiences and more. The spa offers seasonal specials that feature scents of the season (such as cinnamon and ginger in the fall) and ingredients harvested from the hotel’s rooftop garden. These "garden-to-glamorous" experiences include treatments such as the Hot Chocolate Stone Massage that uses chocolate oils with heated basalt stones for relaxation that smells just as good as it feels (50 minutes – $170).
Rooftop pool at the JW Marriott Los Angeles
Hotel Amenities at the JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live
In addition to relaxing at the spa or indulging in a fine meal, the hotel also offers a large fitness center and rooftop pool. Kids will love the poolside games, like basketball and beanbag toss. The pool can get crowded during high occupancy.

Activities Nearby JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live
Some family-friendly attractions are within walking distance, or just a short ride away via the hotel shuttle service. Take the kids bowling at Strike or to the Natural History Museum followed by a swim in the pool and a hand-cut pasta dinner at Ford’s Filling Station. If you’re looking for a couple’s night out, catch a basketball game, hockey game, or concert at the nearby Staples Center, walk to the Grammy Museum, or take in some live entertainment at the Nokia Theater. Looking for some outdoor activity? Mountain biking, hiking and golfing are not far away.

Contact Information
JW Marriott Los Angeles LA Live
900 West Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Accommodation provided by JW Marriott

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Land and Sea Adventures on Catalina Island, CA

Charming Catalina Island is located about an hour off the coast of Orange County, California. The island is 22 miles long and 8 miles across, but 90 percent of its inhabitants live in the only incorporated city, Avalon, that is only one square mile in size. For those looking to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of busy Southern California, Catalina provides a slow-paced vacation that can be spent relaxing on the beach or doing one of the many outdoor adventures.

Getting to Avalon, Catalina Island

Visitors can easily get to Avalon via a one-hour ferry ride from Long Beach, Dana Point, Newport Beach or San Pedro, California for approximately $37.25 (per adult). For only 15 dollars more, travelers on the Catalina Express can upgrade to the Commodore Lounge that offers indoor seating and waitress service. Light snacks and a beverage are included. Parking at the ferry station is typically $15 a day. If traveling by air is more appealing, the fastest way to Avalon is by helicopter -- only a 15-minute flight. If arriving on the island before the typical 3 p.m. hotel check in, there is inexpensive baggage storage at the ferry building. 

Getting Around Avalon, Catalina Island

There are a limited number of vehicles allowed on Catalina, so a rental car is not an option, but a golf cart rental is! Luckily, because Avalon is so small, most people get around by walking, cycling, golf cart, or taxi. For those wanting to visit the interior of the island, excursions are available.

Accommodation in Avalon, Catalina Island

There are various two- and three-star hotels in Avalon. Just a short golf cart ride away are the Hamilton Cove Villas, a luxury condo resort with private pool and spa and magnificent ocean views. The Catalina Island Vacation Rentals rents out the privately owned condo -- each comes with a golf cart for easy access to downtown Avalon. The office is located in the Shops at the Atwater Arcade (119 Sumner Ave, Suite B) in Avalon. 

Land Adventures in Avalon, Catalina Island

There are no shortage of activities to do by foot or wheel around Avalon. A short walk from downtown is the iconic Avalon Casino (which is not a gambling casino) that is home to a movie theater and the Catalina Island Museum. The museum shows the history and heritage of the Island through photos and memorabilia.Visitors can take a "behind the scenes" tour of the ballroom and concert hall, which are used for special events.
Another popular tourist attraction is the Segway Tours. The guided tours are an easy way to see various parts of Avalon. Tours last from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Other interesting activities include the following:
   Wrigley Botanic Gardens
   Interior Tours
   Zip Line Eco Tour

Sea Adventures in Avalon, Catalina Island

For those wanting to experience the Pacific Ocean, there are various types of water activities on the island. From snorkeling to fly fishing, there's something for every age and interest. 

Here are just a few activities worth trying:
   Glass Bottom Boat Tours
   Para Sailing
   Scuba Diving
   Semi-Submersible Tours

With only a day or with an entire week, Avalon has plenty to keep visitors entertained while on Catalina Island. For more information and maps, visit the Catalina Island Visitor Center located at the foot of Green Pleasure Pier in Avalon.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lush Garden Escape at Hotel Bel-Air

Tucked into a secluded Bel-Air neighborhood amongst mansions and lush landscaping, the five-star  Hotel Bel-Air offers guests a quiet retreat from the hustle-and-bustle of Los Angeles. The 12-acre former 1940s private garden estate mixes Spanish colonial style with French Deco design that creates a glamorous and charming atmosphere with limestone and polished marble floors, natural wood ceilings and bold-colored accents. A bridge entryway overlooking Swan Lake ( with three resident swans, Hercules, Athena and Chloe), lush walking path edging a small waterway, indoor and outdoor fireplaces and private patios, make this a retreat the entire family will find relaxing and enjoyable.

Hi-Tech Rooms at Hotel Bel-Air

This dog-friendly property features 58 guestrooms and 45 suites with high-tech features, high-end amenities  and a relaxed, yet luxurious feel. Some rooms include an in-room fireplace and outdoor patio. There are no rooms with two Queen beds, but roll-aways can be ordered to accompany a King bed, if needed.

Amenities may include the following:
  • Bang & Olufsen High-Definition Flat Screen TV
  • Fili D'Oro 310 thread count Egyptian cotton bed linens
  • 25MB+ high speed wireless internet available
  • Spacious bathroom features heated limestone floors, custom vanity with marble, and spa tub with built in TV
  • In-room iPad with room service ordering capability
  • Work desk with integrated media hub
  • Dog-walking services available
  • Rather than hanging a "Do Not Disturb" sign, guest push a button to let housekeeping know whether or not they can enter.
  • Mini Bar
  • An iPad to control the room lighting, thermostat, and contact the concierge, front desk, valet, spa, or restaurant.
  • The iPad menu also includes maps, things to do in the area, Internet, news, shopping and more.

Family-Friendly Amenities at Hotel Bel-Air

Children will be thrilled with plush children's bathrobes and slippers and rubber swans for the bathtub. Kids even get to take home their own plush swan!

With more than 200 species of plants and flowers, kids will love exploring the property and watching the many birds and butterflies that call the property home.

Kids ages four and up can also participate in the "Junior Chef" program offered twice a year.

Babysitting services are available.

On-Property Dining at Hotel Bel-Air

Guests can enjoy fine dining on property at Wolfgang Puck Hotel Bel-Air. The restaurant features modern California cuisine with European and Mediterranean influences and a focus on fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea, the menu includes items such as Brioche French Toast with Tahitian vanilla, clotted cream and huckleberry compote ($19), Fresh "Creste Rigate" Kale Pasta with Sonoma lamb ragu, vine ripe tomatoes, garlic, chili and pecorino ($22), or Miso Glazed Black Cod with bloomsdale spinach, sesame viniagrette pea tenril salad ($26). The restaurant provides alfresco terrace seating as well as an elegant dining room. For after dinner entertainment, cocktails and cuisine, the chic Bar & Lounge features live music. Open daily; weekends until 2 a.m. In-room dining is also available.
Spa: La Prairie Spa is one of 30 Forbes five-star spas in the United States and the only one in L.A.

Unwinding at Hotel Bel-Air

To relax, guests can enjoy lounging and lunching poolside (unfortunately there is no hot tub), working out in the fitness studio or joining in on the Saturday morning yoga class, getting a treatment or enjoying the quiet lounge area at Spa by La Prairie. During summer months, the pool offeres ice cream, chocolate dipped bananas, fruit skewers, push pops, and fruit smoothies, as well as foot massages, sunglasses cleaning and sunscreen application.

Contact Information
Hotel Bel-Air
701 Stone Canyon Road, Los Angeles, CA
90077 USA
+1 310 472 1211