Bahamas

Shot taken from the Quantum of the Seas on a recent cruise to the Caribbean. This overlooks Paradise Island.

Hotel Ivy, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Minneapolis

I’ve been a frequent guest at Hotel Ivy in downtown Minneapolis when I’ve traveled to my company’s headquarters. The hotel is outstanding on many levels: service, accommodations, location, amenities. The property is centrally-located near the convention center.

About Hotel Ivy

This luxury Starwood hotel incorporates the historic Ivy Tower and features 136 rooms with 21 luxurious suites. The staff is polished, warm and helpful. The lobby is simple and classy and is where the check-in desk and the lounge are. The hotel offers meeting space also.

About the Rooms

While there are several room categories to select from, I’ve always stayed in the Superior Room which is the hotel’s “entry level” room. The room design is much like the whole feel of the hotel – understated elegance. It’s about 400 square feet and features a soothing color palette of creams and blues accented by dark wood. There’s a sitting area, a desk perfect for getting some work done, an ultra-comfortable bed with premium linens and a flat screen television. There’s also a clever custom armoire that creates a sense of division between the bathroom, wardrobe area and bedroom. The bathroom is tiled in limestone and offers both an enclosed glass shower and deep soaking tub. I opt for a king bed but a two queen bed layout is also available.

By the way, the hotel is pet-friendly.

About the Amenities

I’ve taken advantage of three of the hotel’s amenities while visiting: the spa, the lounge and the fitness center.

The Spa Club is luxurious without being showy. It features 14 treatment rooms offering specialty massages, body treatments, facials, nail services, and more.

The lobby lounge is named Venetia and features creative mixologists who make drink that rival any of the hippest bars in town. There are also many wines by the glass and a fun beer list, including local favorites. There’s a great happy hour daily from 3PM – 7PM.

There are also a restaurant, the very popular Monello, serving classic Italian fare.

Ivy Fitness Club is beyond a business traveler’s hotel gym dreams. The club has more than 5,000 square feet of state-of-the-art fitness equipment. There are also classes (more to come in a separate post).

Address: 201 S 11th St, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Phone: (612) 746-4600

Happy travels,

Veronique

The Plaza Bar at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

 

Photo by Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

I just recapped my recent stay at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and need to add a separate post about its indoor/outdoor bar, The Plaza Bar. Over the 5 days we spent at this gorgeous Scottsdale hotel, I must admit that we spent a considerable amount of time at this bar. Why? Several reasons:

The Space

As I mentioned earlier, The Plaza Bar is an indoor/outdoor bar that offers several spaces to fit any moods. There’s the typical bar with comfy stools where we had lovely conversations with the mixologists and watched a couple football games. There are sofas with fire pits reminiscent of a home outdoor living rooms. There’s also a modern indoor bar with floor-to-ceiling glass walls/windows that overlook both the central hotel plaza and the backyard/golf course.

Photo by Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

The Drinks

This property has invested in the right bar program. The mixologists are awesome and personable and have developed a craft cocktails menu offering house made bitters, infusions, syrups and powders that are used to make some pretty spectacular drinks. To my hubby’s delight, there are many craft, seasonal beers with some local favorites. There are also many wines by the glass.

My favorite cocktails during out stay were the #1 – vodka, lime, chili-anise shrub, basil, grapefruit segments and ginger beer ($15), Salted Cucumber Gimlet – gin, lime, cucumber and salt ($14) and French ’75 – gin, lemon, sparkling wine ($14).

The Food

The Plaza Bar has a nice bar food menu which features items like chips and onion dip, deviled eggs, burger, chicken Caesar salad and wings. It’s a good alternative to doing a full meal which enjoying drinks or while watching the games.

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

7575 East Princess Drive, Scottsdale, Arizona, United States 85255

Telephone: (480) 585-4848

Email: scottsdale@fairmont.com

Happy cocktailing,

Veronique

Feeling Like Royalty at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

 

I’ve visited the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess over Thanksgiving for the last two years. I’m in the travel industry and see MANY nice properties in the course of a year, yet, this gorgeous resort is at the very top of my list.

About the Property

The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a AAA Five Diamond resort situated in the Sonoran Desert. The property features 750 guest rooms, six pools, two newly-renovated TPC championship golf courses, five top-ranked restaurants and lounges, an award-winning spa with a salon and a wellness facility, catch-and-release fishing lagoons and the popular Trailblazer’s Kid’s Club and  Family Adventure Center.

Top Notch Food & Drinks

Having a solid food and beverage program is something that’s a must for us when staying at a hotel. The Princess excels in both with award-winning restaurants and specialty lounges/bars.

For a casual breakfast or lunch, we like Ironwood American Kitchen which serves classic American cuisine in a casual indoor/outdoor bistro atmosphere. The all-day offering ranges from flatbread pizzas, sandwiches and salads.

Our dinner favorite is La Hacienda, celebrity chef Richard Sandoval’s modern Mexican restaurant. We adore the classic-yet-refined Mexican cuisine and the tequila bar that features 240+ varieties of tequila from 36 different labels presented by a Tequila Goddess – amazing mole, guacamole and margaritas!

My golf-avid husband loves to lunch after playing at Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar located at the Clubhouse overlooking the 18th hole of the famed TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course. The restaurant has a Pan Latin menu and he enjoys lunch of ceviche paired with one of the 151 varieties of rum available.

Another restaurant I’ll be dining at on my next visit is Bourbon Steak, a Chef Michael Mina restaurant.

Well & Being Spa

When my guy’s at golf, I’m at Well & Being Spa. This place is AMAZING and I’ll write about it in more details in a future post, but it includes more than 70 treatments to choose from, has a top-of-the-line fitness center and tons of daily fitness classes. I love starting the day with a yoga class then enjoying a few spa treatments.

Seasonal Experiences at the Princess

One of the reasons I enjoy visiting this property over Thanksgiving is because of its Christmas at the Princess event. The place transforms in a winter wonderland, yes, in the desert, complete with ice skating rink, giant decorated trees and millions of twinkling lights. The place is festive and beautiful and sets the tone for the holidays to come – I highly recommend it.

The resort features seasonal and holiday experiences complete with specialty menus, decadent brunches, concerts and family-friendly activities. Here’s a bit of info about the four main seasonal experiences:

Winter Escape to the Princess

Spring Blooms at the Princess

Summer at the Princess

Fall Adventure at the Princess

Note that there’s a daily resort service charge of $30 per room, per night (plus applicable tax). Resort service charge includes half day access to Trailblazers Family Adventure Center for up to three children (ages 5-12, lunch fee additional), self-parking, basic internet access, access to the hotel gym (not the spa fitness center) and more.

Who Should Stay at This Property

The best part of this property is that it truly caters to all: foodies interested in dining at four top-ranked Arizona restaurants, meeting/conference attendees, spa fanatics (like me) looking to partake in the innovative spa and fitness programs at Well & Being Spa, sun worshipers ready to soak in the sun at one of the six sparkling pools, and golf enthusiasts ready to tee off at two newly-renovated 18-hole championship golf courses, including one that’s home to the Annual PGA Tour Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

7575 East Princess Drive

Scottsdale, Arizona

United States 85255

Telephone: (480) 585-4848

Email: scottsdale@fairmont.com

Happy travels!

Veronique

Best Way to Pass the Time on a Flight

 

Coloring Book and PencilsIf you’ve followed me for a while, you know I’m on the road for work a good part of the year. That means lots of time at the airport lounge and sitting on a plane.

While I typically work on my laptop to keep up with emails and assignments, I can’t do that at the start of end of my flights as laptops need to be powered down. What I find myself doing during that time is getting on my iPad and playing games or reading.

I’ve been looking for new ways to pass the time while traveling and started coloring. Yes, coloring…as in coloring book and colored pencils! I’ve been buying adult coloring books that are very intricate in a henna sort of way. The books and my coloring pencils case are thin so they take up hardly any space in my laptop bag, a definite plus!

Coloring Book PageAccording to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy, including adult coloring, is a mental health profession in which the process of making and creating artwork is used to “explore feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem”. Basically, for me, it’s all about stress relieving and keeping my mental focus sharp.

 

I find the time flies by as I color and I’ve enjoyed it tremendously. Perhaps it would also be good for you!

Happy travels,

Veronique

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park

 

I’ve shown my love for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts on this blog and via social media in the past, and am, once again, doing that, this time for the beautiful, elegant Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, a AAA Four-Diamond property.

I recently stayed at the 687-room, 45-story property while I attended a business meeting within the conference space.

The front-desk staff was beyond courteous and addressed me by name and acknowledged my President Club status. These employees really set the tone for the level of service I’d be experiencing during my stay – simply delightful.

My king-bed room was on the 36th floor and overlooked Grant Park and the water. The furnishings aren’t brand new but are pristinely-maintained. The bedding made it so I never wanted to get up in the morning and the bathroom linens were top-quality.

I appreciate a hotel with bedside electric outlets and the Fairmont didn’t disappoint. The work desk was also well-appointed to fit my business needs with suitable outlets.

The check-out process was on-point with the proper level of appreciation for my business, which will ensure return visits.

The Fairmont Millennium Park Chicago is the perfect property for leisure or business.

Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park – 200 North Columbus Drive, Chicago, Illinois, United States 60601. Telephone: (312) 565-8000.

Happy travels,

Veronique

Yet Another Reason to Love United

 

United_Airlines_1181356I fly a lot for work and my hub is Newark so I’m on a United Airlines place, often. While some of my fellow road warriors gripe about United for various reasons – I love United.

  • I enjoy terminal C at Newark with all its cool new restaurants, shops and perks.
  • I like being able to visit a United Club prior to a flight to get work done (please put a Club at Miami International Airport).
  • Mileage Plus rocks, plain and simple.
  • The new-ish website is so much better and the app is super also with the entertainment selection.
  • I actually think the gate agents and the crews are awesome and helpful. And to illustrate just how amazing these folks are, I thought I’d recap my flight home from Dallas yesterday.
    • Rush from a client presentation to Dallas DFW for a 1:47PM flight to Newark.
    • We board the flight and after about 2 ½ hours, the lead flight attendant announces there’s a medical emergency and asks for any medically-trained passenger to come to the back of the plane. Nobody identifies him/herself.
    • Captain then makes a second announcement saying it’s critical someone with a medical background identifies him/herself. I feel the plane descending (yes, I fly a lot) and know we’ll reroute.
    • Captain comes on and says we’ll be landing in 20 minutes and to stay seated. He sounds concerned. Everyone sits and all becomes quiet, even the baby that’s been crying for 2 hours.
    • Captain comes back on to say we’re rerouting to Dulles airport as a baby’s in distress. You know, the baby no longer crying. Chills, all the complainers about a flight diversion shut up immediately.
    • Medics are onboard within minutes of landing, take the not-alert baby off, get their gear out, we refuel, restock medical equipment and we take off.
    • We were at the gate at Newark 75 minutes after our flight was due to land – INCREDIBLE!!!

Kudos United.

Veronique Deblois

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Alexandria

 

A couple of weeks ago, I went down to Alexandria, a great town by the way, for a team meeting. Since near the headquarters office, we stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, a boutique hotel in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, right on King Street.

I’ve been a big fan of Kimpton hotels for years as they put the fun in functional hotels with quirky décor, upbeat staff and welcoming atmosphere.

About the hotel

The Old Town boutique hotel recently went through a multimillion-dollar redesign by acclaimed Los Angeles designer, David Hill., The remodel helped re-invigorate the legacy of Monaco Alexandria, its guestrooms and suites and its fun and welcoming communal spaces.

Some of the amenities offered by this Old Town Alexandria hotel are a 24-hour fitness center, a heated pool, in-room spa services, free use of Gaiam yoga mats and custom-designed, PUBLIC bikes.

About the guestrooms

The hotel boasts 241 suites and guestrooms, including two-level loft suites, 28 terrace rooms with balconies, an 800-square-foot Mediterranean Suite plus the brand-new Eleanor Suite, perfect for wedding day prep. The guestrooms are playful yet sophisticated with subtle hints to the hotel’s location and storied Civil War past. Geometric carpet, cheery accent pillows, studded cream-colored headboards, new ergonomic teal chairs and graphic collages of flickering gas lamps adorn each room.

The fun stuff

I must admit that I primarily wrote this post to send kudos to this hotel for its fun robes and clever drink coupon. Is that strange? Perhaps, but as a road warrior, I feel it’s important to commend travel suppliers when they do something great.

I was tired from my trip in to Alexandria when I checked in and as soon as I went to hang my power suit for the next day, there were the two most fun robes waiting for me. Well done Hotel Monaco.

Let’s roll back to me checking into the hotel. The cheerful front desk agent checks me in and then tells me I’ve just missed their complimentary wine hour. I immediately go into a ‘why tell me that!!??’ mode but then the agent hands me the below drink coupon with some the most clever marketing on it. So, I’ve missed happy hour BUT you’re treating me to a drink anyways? Brilliant, simply brilliant.

In a world of cold and impersonal cookie-cutter hotels, I appreciate the thoughtfulness extended by this property and will be staying there again soon.

Happy travels,

Veronique

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Fitness Centers

 

Aerial Yoga

Aerial Yoga – Photo by Fairmont

I recently stayed at the gorgeous Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale Arizona and must explain how great the property’s fitness centers were.

There are two fitness centers: one within the spa (more about the spa in a future post) and one near the lobby.

Fitness Center at Well & Being Spa

For customers scheduled for spa treatments, the state-of-the-art fitness center located within the spa premises is complimentary. For non-customers, the spa access fee to the facilities is $55.

Well & Being Spa offers an array of fitness classes and personal training regiments to suit every guest. From yoga (aerial and standard) Pilates and Zumba, ideal for all guests, to more advanced classes like Boot Camp, body sculpting, Krank Fusion and TRX, the schedule of classes is varied enough for beginners to experts. I enjoyed an open-level yoga class that was wonderful.

Fitness Activities and Class Schedules

The fitness center at the spa is open from 6AM to 8PM.

Fairmont Fitness Center

24-hour access to the hotel’s fitness center is included in the $29/day resort fee charged to hotel guests. I visited this gym at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess twice and liked the space and the equipment both times.

Address: 7575 E Princess Dr., Scottsdale, AZ 85255

Phone: (480) 585-4848.

For guests who want to keep healthy on their stay in Scottsdale, the Fairmont Princess has two solid fitness center options.

Happy travels,

Veronique

Happiest of Thanksgiving

11.16.15

 

Just a short note to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and to say how thankful I am to have your support with this blog and my crazy travel adventures.

I’ll be spending the holiday with good friends and, I’m sure, over-indulging on delicious traditional foods.

All the best for a wonderful holiday.

Cheers,

Veronique

Publishing a Post Vs Sharing an Update on LinkedIn

 
linkedin_logoEarlier this year, LinkedIn made an enhancement I’m not sure everyone fully understands. This enhancement allows users to either “share an update” or “publish a post”. After getting inquiries from some of my connections, I thought I’d clarify the difference between these publishing options.

Share an Update

This option is for short, simple messages – typically a sentence or two and a link to be accessed for further info. For example, my latest update: Sabre to acquire hotel technology company, Trust Group – http://bit.ly/1IgkmJb

Publish a Post

This option is to be used for longer messages or perhaps a complete blog post. See this example of a published post by Michelle Guelbart – Director of Private Sector Engagement at ECPAT-USA: Breaking the Cycle of Slavery: 40 Miles for the TD Bike Tour – http://bit.ly/1IauXKY

Both options get shared to your network, so have no fear an update or a post will be missed by your connections.

Hope this helps!

Veronique