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

Hotel Review – Homewood Suites by Hilton Denver Downtown-Convention Center


Lobby Photo by Homewood Suites Downtown Denver

I recently stayed at Homewood Suites by Hilton® Denver Downtown-Convention Center for a business meeting and can’t stop raving about this neat property.

The Property

The stylish, contemporary property is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Denver, and as the name suggests, near the Denver Convention Center. The all-suites hotel is a stroll away from the Denver Center for Performing Arts, the 16th Street Mall and the Denver Art Museum. I walked to several downtown Denver restaurants during my stay.

As is true of Homewood Suites, a hot full breakfast is served free of charge each morning. There are also complimentary evening socials from Monday through Thursday evenings. The hotel has full kitchen in its suites and smartly offers a complimentary grocery shopping service – brilliant! For on-the-go-items, there’s a 24-hour on-site convenience store. There is also complimentary internet access. Guests can re-energize in the fitness center, I did and it’s a great spot, or refresh with a dip in the indoor pool or hot tub.

The Suite

I stayed in a spacious one-bedroom king urban studio with panoramic mountain view suite and it was fabulous. My bedroom had gorgeous views of the snow-capped mountains and large windows were prominent throughout the suite. One of the bedroom features I loved during my stay – a ceiling fan over the bed! The bed linens and pillows were of premium quality, an important element to a comfortable stay. There’s a large flat screen TV in the bedroom.

I had a fully-equipped kitchen with a twin burner stove, microwave, full-sized refrigerator, coffee maker and a dishwasher. While I didn’t have an opportunity to cook in my suite, I appreciated being able to store beverages and snacks in the refrigerator. This is a great feature for families traveling with kids as well as business travelers not wanting to dine out each night.

The work area with comfortable desk chair is adjacent to the living room featuring a sofa bed. I found myself stretching out on the sofa and watching TV on the flat screen a few evenings during my stay.

The modern bathroom was clean and spacious with a walk-in shower and a granite vanity. Kudos for the great water pressure and the small foot rest perfect for leg shaving.

I’m looking forward to visiting Denver again so I can stay at this great property.

Happy travels!


Veronique Deblois is a travel industry veteran who’s currently employed by Hilton. The views and contents of this post are my own and in no way in partnership with my employer. I wasn’t compensated for writing about this subject.

Wentworth Mansion – Charleston’s Grand Dame


Wentworth Mansion

The Wentworth Mansion, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is a historic hotel in downtown Charleston. Through my social media efforts, I won a three-night stay at this illustrious property and our stay was simply perfect on all levels: luxurious accommodations, gracious hospitality, an award-winning restaurant and exclusive amenities.

Richard Widman purchased The Wentworth Mansion in 1997 and proceeded with an extensive $7 million renovation that preserved and restored historic features including the original staircase, the inlaid floors, and Tiffany glass while adding modern conveniences.

Wentworth Sunroom

We loved that the property, which had been a private residence, was not in a commercial and bustling part of Charleston, yet, it was just steps from award-winning dining, art, history and shopping.

The property’s grounds are lush with green lawns, century-old trees and flowers. There is a private, complimentary parking lot that was welcoming as street parking is common in the neighborhood. A bell person is available to gather belongings from the car and transport them to guest rooms.

All guests receive a complimentary house-made breakfast and nightly chocolates from the restaurant in the mansion’s original carriage house.

When I hear that my room comes with complimentary breakfast, I am not often excited but at Wentworth Mansion, breakfast is an absolute treat. More on Circa 1886 in a bit.

In proper southern hospitality, the property offers afternoon hors d’oeuvres & wine in the Charleston Parlor. There, we had an opportunity to meet other guests and unwind before heading out for the evening. Upon returning from our evenings out, we were greeted by evening port, sherry and brandy.

The Accommodations

Each of the 21 guest rooms has a unique size, shape and architectural features. The property offers pet-friendly guest rooms for patrons with pets have easy access to the lawn and homemade dog biscuits.

Our room was one of the Mansion Rooms, once the bedrooms of the family that built the Mansion. The elegant guest room is spacious (averaging about 475 square feet) and beautifully appointed with a king-size bed with premium linens, an expansive bathroom with oversized whirlpool tub, a walk-in shower and luxurious bath products and a gas fireplace. There was a sitting area where I enjoyed reading a book and a desk where we could have worked comfortably, but did not. There is nightly turndown service.

Rooms also feature refrigerators with complimentary soft drinks and bottled water, flat screen televisions, DVD players, hair dryers, irons and ironing boards, cozy robes and safety deposit box. Rooms and common areas offer complimentary internet access.

Wentworth Lobby

The Food

Tucked away in the gardens behind Wentworth Mansion in the original carriage house, Circa 1886 Chef Marc Collins honors Charleston traditions while creating contemporary cuisine beautifully crafted with the finest, locally-sourced ingredients from the area’s fields, pastures and waters.

The delicious breakfast that comes with stays at Wentworth Mansion features homemade pastries, delectable coffee and local favorite dishes. Service is friendly and polished but not stuffy and the setting is beautifully appointed.

We also enjoyed dinner at Circa 1886. We opted for the five-course Chef’s Tasting Dinner. The typical cost of this $75 dinner is reduced for hotel guests. It is a considerable value for food that is so fabulous.

More about Circa 1886 in an upcoming post.

The Spa

Originally the Mansion’s stables, The Spa provides everything guests needs to rejuvenate and replenish amid 14-foot vaulted ceilings, exposed beams and rustic beauty.

A stay at Wentworth Mansion is an absolute treat and pampering experience and I look forward to returning.

Address: 149 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401.

Happy travels,


Cheap Family-Friendly Vacation in Washington DC


Washington, D.C.

National Air and Space Museum. Photo by The Smithsonian Institution.

In Washington, D.C., most of the family-friendly attractions are free making this popular city a bargain for families. Three stops on the National Mall that are must-visit are part of the Smithsonian Institution:  the National Air and Space Museum, the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of American History. The National Air and Space Museum offers many educational opportunities for children and adults and features thousands of objects on display, including the 1903 Wright Flyer, Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia and a lunar rock kids can touch. The National Museum of National History has a compelling display of dinosaur bones and artifacts and also features the wildly-popular Butterfly Pavilion, which is a paid exhibit. At the National Museum of American History, families will be able to view the Star Spangled Banner and visit hands-on kid-friendly exhibits. A short metro ride away is the National Zoo with its more than 2,000 animals and many informative educational classes.

Where to stay: The Embassy Suites Washington DC Convention Center is within walking distance to the Smithsonian museums and White House and has an indoor pool. Hampton Inn Washington, D.C./White House has an indoor pool and offers complimentary breakfast and internet. The District by Hilton Club offers a touch of luxury with family-friendly amenities like free hot breakfast and an indoor pool.

Happy travels!


Veronique Deblois is a travel industry veteran who currently works for Hilton. The views and contents on this post are my own and in no way in partnership with my employer.

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,


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


Happy cocktailing,


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


Happy travels!


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,


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,


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,