Thursday, April 29, 2010

Girls Getaway to St Pete Beach

Due to Florida’s cool weather, we decided to re-schedule this trip that we had planned in February.

For a weekend of rest and relaxation, we will be spending some down time at the Tradewinds Resort ( Follow our trip on Twitter (@GetawayGirl) or on the Girls Getaway Guide Facebook Fan Page.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Girls Getaway to Montana

Beautiful big skies, mountain scenery and lots of outdoor fun! That's what we found during our Girls Getaway to Montana, which was complete with fitness fun, rodeos, white water rafting, cooking class, massages, parades, pool tables and more!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Apple Gears Up for a New Travel Application

Apple is reportedly working on a new travel application, iTravel, for its iPhone.
According to a report filed by, Apple has reportedly filed a patent for a travel app that books flights, hotels and car reservations, as well as providing ticketless check-in using Near Field Communications (NFC), a short-range wireless technology. The development has emerged at a stage when the battle between the likes of Apple, Nokia, Amazon, Google and RIM continues to get intense.

Source: Eye for Travel

Monday, April 26, 2010

Girls Getaway to NYC - Goodbye!

Our last NYC meal was brunch at Pastis ( with Nikki and Nancy. With French pastries, perfectly scrambled eggs, huge home fries and Bloody Marie’s, it was a delectable dining experience and a lovely way to end our girls’ getaway to NYC. Cheers to our return trip!

Goodbye New York...we love you!

Thank you to Affinia Shelburne and On Location Tours for their generous hospitality!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Girls Getaway to NYC - Day 3

We enjoyed our morning coffee while sitting on our balcony and gazing at the New York skyline. With some caffeine in my blood stream, I was ready to start my day as a “shopaholic.” Our cab driver dropped us off in Soho and hit as many stores as we could (H&M, Banana Republic, Bloomingdale’s, Top Shop, Scoop, Steve Madden and more). We even had fun shopping for the grandson/great grandson on the way (see photo). I had so many more places to shop on my list, but we ran out of time (and I was running out of money) as we had plans to meet my cousin, Nikki, at her Soho apartment later in the day.

We caught up with Nikki, and her mom Nancy, at the apartment where we had cocktails and toasted our NYC getaway. Then we went to dinner at Mezzogiorno Restaurant ( For appetizers, we ordered calamari sautéed with tomato, avocado and red crushed pepper and sautéed baby artichokes with pistachio and parmigiano cheese. Nikki and I split the pan seared chicken breast with avocado in a light creamy truffle sauce and ravioli with black truffle…so good! Our table split three desserts: crème brulée with raspberry and caramelized sugar cane, baked apple tart “Cortina” style and creamy zabaione pudding with fresh strawberries. Everything was perfect! A great recommendation for anyone looking for good food in Soho.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Girls Getaway to NYC - Day 2

Friday morning began with a taxi ride to MOMA ( where we were all excited to see the exhibits from: Tim Burton (Batman, Edward Scissorhands), Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present (Sex and the City), and Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century. As we walked around to MOMA’s entrance, we realized the line was to the end of the block. Our decision was made…we were not going to stand in line to wait when there is so much we wanted to do today.

We walked to Central Park where Luiz and Sylvia were kind enough to give us a tour of the park. Luiz made his way to NYC from Brazil and Sylvia came to the city from Amish country where she used to pull a plow. That’s right…Sylvia is a horse. We climbed aboard the carriage, and Sylvia did her job. In fact, Luiz said she probably didn’t even need him since she knew exactly where to go. But we needed Luiz and were thankful he was there to provide us with informative facts about the park and point our key sites. Since my grandmother had never taken a carriage ride through Central Park, this was a really special outing for her.

After our horse and carriage ride, we walked across the street to Sarabeth’s Bakery ( I knew we’d have a great lunch here since I have eaten at their only non-NY location, which is in Key West, about a year ago. I ordered their famous Tomato Cream Soup and tapenade, but everything that ended up on our table was delicious!

After we refueled at Sarabeth’s, we were off to the The Pulitzer Fountain, the meeting spot to catch the bus for our Sex and the City tour, which is provided by On Location Tours ( At first I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a 3-hour bus tour in congested NYC, but the tour and overall experience exceeded my expectations. Our “sexpert,” Staci, was full of interesting Sex and the City information and pointed out key sites that were featured in the show and the movie. We saw places like the Plaza Hotel, Buddakan (site of Carrie’s rehearsal dinner), 40th Street (where Carrie smacked Big with flowers after he stood her up at the altar), The Pleasure Chest (where Charlotte bought her rabbit), The Library, the park where Miranda tripped over her stroller, church where Samantha’s “friend” worked, Scout (Steve & Aiden’s bar) and more! We had a really good time, and appreciate Staci sharing her fabulous insight with us. What a terrific tour, and a must for any Sex and the City fan!!! Even my grandmother, who never watched the show, enjoyed the adventure.

After the tour, we were exhausted and returned to the hotel only to find that the upstairs, outdoor bar, Rare View, had just opened. With an incredible view of the NYC skyline, including the Empire State Building, we fell more in love with our lovely hotel. After cocktails, we ordered room service from Rare, which has some of the best hamburgers I have ever tasted (and I love hamburgers).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Girls Getaway to NYC - Day 1

Who doesn’t love New York? When I planned a quick trip there for business meetings, my mom and grandmother (who is 81-years-old) jumped at the opportunity to go with me and turned the trip into a Multigenerational/Pre-Mother’s Day Girls Getaway to NYC! And the city will never be the same J!

We knew the trip was off to a great start when our Airtran ( flight from Orlando offered us a complimentary upgrade to first class. As I feverishly worked on my laptop during the flight, I looked across the aisle only to see the ladies with wine glasses in hand and big smiles on their faces. Cheers to vino for breakfast! Upon landing in The Big Apple, we gathered our luggage and caught a taxi to our hotel, the Affinia Shelburne (, which is located on Lexington and 37th. We were absolutely delighted to check in to our 15th floor room, which was complete with an amazing view of the New York City skyline, a balcony, kitchen and enough room for a small party (versus the NYC hotel rooms you can barely move in).

We unpacked and met Kirsten in the hotel’s fantastic restaurant, Rare ( I had met Kirsten in Phoenix last year, and she recently re-located to NYC for work. After a few drinks with her and some great NYC suggestions, we were off to Chicago….at least the Broadway production of the musical. As a fan of the movie, I was eager to see the live stage version. It certainly lived up to its big screen adaptation with great music, lively dancing and that interactive feeling you can only find when watching live theater. All three generations loved it! To top it off, the theater must have known my mom was coming as they offered her wine in her very own sippy cup. Happy Mother’s Day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Goodbye Grenada!

After our full day of fun in the sun, we enjoyed a nice dinner at the Great House, which tasted even better with our balcony view of the ocean. With this being our last night in Grenada, we decided to “research” the local hang out. Our destination, Club Bananas, was located near St Georges University Medical School. We arrived, quickly pulled up to the bar and made friends with the med students who were there to celebrate T.J’s (not my brother) birthday. After convincing the med school students we were there to look at the school as we were considering our next college destination (little did they know we are 10 years older than that), we called it a night and returned to LaSource. A 4:00 a.m. wake up call was waiting for us so that we could make our early flight.

As we regretfully said farewell to the Spice Isle, we agreed to come back one day soon. Hopefully, we will return soon enough that we can still pass for college students. Thank you to LaSource Resort and Cheryl Andrews Marketing for an “amazing holiday.”

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Girls Getaway to Grenada - Day 2

We started the second day with some R&R on the Pink Gin Beach, which was just steps away from our hotel rooms. With the delivery of fresh fruit juices, we agreed this must be heaven and we don’t want to leave. We heard the Caribbean-style music performed by Ignacio, who designs tin drums and teaches you how to play. Of course, we both took “lessons” and purchased tin drums of our own for souvenirs (and some must needed practice back home).

With the pool nearby, we heard the Aquacise music and couldn’t help but jump into the pool and join the group. We had a techno-style workout, which was fun. Grace and I even picked up some guys at the pool…literally! After our perfect pool workout, we found Nigel for an archery lesson (neither of us had ever tried it). Nigel taught us the basic stance, grip and technique. Then we were on our own. I finally hit the red, which was the closest one could get to the yellow bullseye. Beginners luck? Perhaps, but I will try it again one day.

We ate lunch at LaSource’s Oscar’s Beach Bar and Restaurant, which provides one outstanding beach view. We split a pizza and each ordered a Marinated Jerk Chicken Caesar Salad. Next, it was off to the spa for our two treatments (we got one per day but missed our appointments yesterday because of our tour, so they were kind enough to double them indulgence today). Many thanks for my Silk & Smooth Exfoliation and the LaSource Signature Back Massage.

After total muscle relaxation at the spa, it was time for our Master’s Yoga Class at the resort’s hilltop Relaxation Pavilion with Dr. Manoj Kutteri (LaSource’s spa director) and Dr. Akbar Malik, editor of the international edition of Yoga Magazine and a dedicated yoga instructor for more than 15 years.

LaSource offers a variety of activities and we wanted to try them all; however, we ran out of time. Equipment and classes are provided for water sports, bicycling, archery, golf, tennis, kayak, yoga, tai chi, cardio and workout classes, pool volleyball, Caribbean Dance, diving and snorkeling.

PHOTO: Nigel helps me perfect my archery aim at LaSource Resort, Grenada.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Girls Getaway to Grenada - Day 1

On my first day in Grenada, we took a whirlwind tour of the island. Our first stop was the Laura Spice and Herb Garden where we had a firsthand introduction as to why Grenada is known as the Isle of Spice. We learned about the cultivation of nutmeg, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, and other less familiar spices and herbs used by the locals for cooking and/or medicinal purposes. Some smelled wonderful; others (as Clint pointed out) do not.

Our second stop was the town of St. Georges, which serves at the nation’s capital and cruise ship port. We browsed through the Spice Market and saw more of the spices that make this island so unique. While in town, we could see some of the French influence that is found in both the well seasoned food (think New Orleans) and some French architecture that has survived. With the friendly locals, we found that island culture is heavily influenced by the African roots of most of the Grenadians.

Grand Etang National Park, which is located eight miles from St. Georges and 2,000 miles above sea level in the island’s lush rainforest, was our next stop. With its diverse vegetation, including cloud forests, montane thickets, palm brakes, elfin woodland and rainforest, this is a popular destination for nature lovers and hikers.

Our last stop of the tour was the Belmont Estate (, a 300-year-old working cocoa plantation. Located in St Patrick, about an hour’s drive from St. Georges, Belmont Estate is a unique and authentic 17th century plantation that offers guests an opportunity to participate in and observe the workings of a fully functional historic plantation. With farm tours, a museum, restaurant and gift shop, Belmont is the perfect agri-tourist destination.

We returned to LaSource for a little R&R, and then it was time for the Manager’s Cocktail Party at the Terrace Lounge. Resort Manager Tony Suttile makes you feel right at home, and we had a great time with him (as well as Resort Owner Leon Taylor and Director of Sales and Marketing Kristen Appelman) as we moved the festivities to dinner at Garden Restaurant. Thank you for a lovely evening!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Girls Getaway to Grenada - Arrival

When planning your next girls getaway, would you mind having daily spa treatments, free cocktails, daily planned activities…all while enjoying a tropical paradise on the Caribbean island of Grenada? I didn’t think so. And neither did I. My Girls Getaway to Grenada, which included a fantastic stay at the LaSource Resort (, was yet another great trip. Grenada is one of the Caribbean’s best kept secrets…at least from many Americans. The majority of the guests we met at LaSource were from the United Kingdom, which helps give the “Isle of Spice” a European flair.

Grenada (pronounced greh-NAY-duh) is an island country and sovereign state consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. It is located northwest of Trinidad and Tobago, northeast of Venezuela, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is about 133 square miles in size, with an estimated population of 104,000.

Grenada is called The Spice Isle because it is a leading producer of several different spices. Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, allspice, orange/citrus peels, wild coffee used by the locals, and especially nutmeg, providing 20% of the world supply, are all important exports. The nutmeg on the nation's flag represents the economic crop of Grenada; the nation is the world’s second largest producer of nutmeg (after Indonesia).

I travel quite a bit and see a lot of resorts, yet I was very impressed upon my arrival at LaSource (even though I didn’t get there until 10:00 p.m. due to flight delays). Owner and engineer Leon Taylor has paid close attention to every detail to ensure his guests have an “Amazing Holiday” experience at LaSource. Each of the property’s 100 guest rooms has an ocean view, and most are equipped with a remote control A/C (very nice), cathedral ceilings, Pevonia bath products, and walk in closet. Each evening, we returned to our room to find our daily gift from the resort, as well as the resort’s next-day itinerary.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Girls Getaway to Grenada

While many of us are working hard to get in shape for bikini season, it is important to think about your overall well being, which will be the focus of my Girls Getaway to Grenada’s luxury inclusive spa resort, LaSource ( This trip will include a daily Masters Yoga Class taught by Dr. Akbar Malik, editor of the international edition of Yoga Magazine and a dedicated yoga instructor for more than 15 years. Follow my trip on Facebook (Girls Getaway Guide Fan Page) or Twitter @GetawayGirl.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Key West Songwriters' Festival

Looking for the perfect getaway this spring? Plan to attend one of my favorite events, the Key West Songwriters Festival, which will take place in Key West, FL April 28 – May 2. Celebrating its 15th year, the festival is the largest of its kind in the world, which revolves around five days and nights of more than 20 free shows, staged at an array of the island’s most popular drinking holes and hot spots, where live music bliss introduces crowds to the faces, voices and stories behind the songs. Diverse lineups featuring more than 100 top songwriters deliver rare, “Key West-only” moments. This year, my friend and Universal South recording artist Randy Houser kicks things off with a free concert at the Ocean Key Pier on April 28.

For more details and a list of performers, visit

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Girls Getaway to Arkansas - Goodbye

With the Ouachitas Mountains as our backdrop, I regretfully said goodbye to Arkansas. Not only were there some really amazing things to do here, but the people were exceptionally nice and are already missed. I was so impressed by the wine...can't wait to come back for more.

Once I arrived back in Florida, I was so excited to get a message, “Would you be interested in serving as Grand Marshall for our Bikes, Babes and Bling event in July?” My answer: Absolutely! Arkansas, I will be back!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Girls Getaway to Arkansas - Day 2

Dena and I woke up the next morning to see the beautiful lake, and I realized just how gorgeous and serene this setting really was. After enjoying the view and some coffee, it was time to tour Mountain Harbor and have lunch at Turtle Cove Spa. Pati (who I named the Martha Stewart of Arkansas) toured us around the 900-acre resort, which includes its award-winning marina, full-service spa, restaurant, cabins, condos and group meeting space.

After the tour and a delicious lunch at Turtle Cove Spa (, it was treatment time. Many thanks to spa owner Deb and spa manager Kristi for such a warm welcome. I cannot thank Jennifer enough for the wonderful facial. I enjoyed learning about all of the products she was using, and her helpful “wrinkle eraser” tips are much appreciated! Tranquility is the key here at Turtle Cove, and you will find more than 100 turtles nestled throughout the spa. They even have their own turtle candles and turtle tea, so clever!

As I left the spa, I was completely relaxed. In fact, we were so relaxed back at the cabin that we opted for dinner in. Yes, the Mountain Harbor folks delivered dinner to our cabin, and Pati poured her delicious Pomegranate Cocktails and even made brie with my initials on it. I love her! After dinner, Dena and I jumped into the hot tub and watched the lake sparkle as the moon hit the water just right. With wine in hand, we chatted and laughed for several hours.

Girls Getaway to Arkansas - Day 4

The next morning we arrived at the Oaklawn Horse Racing Park ( and were greeted by Lou, who served as our VIP escort for the day. He made sure we received the full tour of the race stadium, including the press box, announcers’ booth, paddocks, Oaklawn Club and gaming area. With Lou’s connections, we were able to watch Race #3 trackside and got a photo with race winner Speedy Escape. After the grand tour, we were ready to eat, drink and place bets! We ordered a few dozen raw oysters and as many Bloody Marys as we could carry and made our way to the betting window, then to our box to watch the races. We cheered on our favorites and collected our winnings. Our next stop was the Club Room where we met Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who is originally from Arkansas. We had such a great time!!! Does an afternoon in Arkansas get any better? As the races came to an end, we went to Oaklawn’s gaming room for some more gambling. From slots to craps to blackjack, the gaming room has it all and offers something for any level gambler.

After Oaklawn, we checked into the Arlington Hotel ( for my last night in Arkansas. Since 1924, this Arlington (there were two others prior) has served as one of the most prominent structures in downtown Hot Springs, and it was designed for vacationers and bathers who traveled to Hot Springs for the thermal waters The hotel has hosted notables such as Barbara Streisand, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Yoko Ono, Tony Bennett and Babe Ruth. One of the hotels most notorious guests was Al Capone, who stayed in room 442, and rented the entire floor for his staff and bodyguards. Capone was such a fixture here that his car is on display in the hotel’s lobby.

The lobby and restaurants of the Arlington have undergone recent renovations; however, the hotel rooms still represent the nostalgia of the past. In fact, on the back of our hotel room (#911) is some of the original thermal bathing instructions from the 1960s for guests to know what temperature and duration their soaks should be. The information certainly served as entertainment for the evening.

My last Arkansas dinner was at Angel’s Italian Restaurant in downtown Hot Springs. We sat down and were immediately greeted by Debbie, who was a wonderful hostess for the evening. We started asking Debbie about the restaurant and owners and she told us all about the nice couple who own this restaurant and a few other businesses in town. It was refreshing to hear someone speak so highly of their boss, and Debbie’s loyalty to them was undeniable. Our meal was delicious and Debbie made us feel right at home.

After dinner, we checked out the Hot Springs nightlife, which included Maxine’s (named after Hot Springs most famous madam, Maxine Temple Jones) and Lucky’s (named after gangster Lucky Luciano). Both venues featured live music and were a lot of fun (what happens in Hot Springs stays in Hot Springs).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Girls Getaway to Arkansas - Day 3

The next day we were on the road again en route to Mufreesboro to dig for diamonds. Crater of Diamonds State Park ( is the only place in North America where you can dig for diamonds and the only place in the world where you can keep what you find. We arrived to find all kinds of people scattered throughout the park's diamond search area, a 37-acre plowed field that is the eroded surface of an ancient volcanic pipe that 95 million years ago. The volcanic activity brought to the surface the diamonds and some of the semi-precious stones lucky visitors find here today. While any color diamond can be found at the park, the three most common colors unearthed by visitors are white, brown and yellow, as well as more than 40 types of rocks and minerals, such as lamproite, amethyst, banded agate, jasper, peridot, garnet, quartz, calcite, barite, and hematite. Margi got us geared up (rubber boot covers, shovel, two-level sifters, apron and gloves) and taught us how to prospect. We were digging, dumping, sifting and searching all morning trying to find the perfect diamond to take home. While we didn’t find our “retirement,” we had fun (and were entertained) and realized we need to set aside an entire day (not just a few hours) for diamond mining next time.

The hard work from diamond digging made us drive straight to the closest restaurant, which was Buddy’s Ranch House Cafe. I tweeted: “You know you're in Arkansas when you order The Big Bad Buddy Burger for lunch while surrounded by Razorback decor & signs: Go hogs!" While surrounded by Razorback fanatics, I was deathly afraid to tell anyone I was a Florida Gator. I quickly ate my Big Bad Buddy Burger and we got back on the road.

Next stop, Hot Springs and the Gangster Museum of America (, which depicts an historic account of the life and times of the most notorious gangsters in America and their relationships in the spa city. During the 20s-40s era, Hot Springs was the Las Vegas of the U.S. Notable villains such as Al Capone, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, Frank Costello and Lucky Luciano all vacationed in Hot Springs in an effort to treat illnesses and find comfort in the hot water.

After learning about the city’s “underground” gangster life and hearing some of the history, it was time to check out these famous bath houses. Eight bath houses make up Bath House Row, located in the Hot Springs National Park which sits in Downtown Hot Springs. We toured the Quapaw Bath House (, which is a 24,000-square foot Spanish Colonial revival style building built in 1922. Although it once served guests in the early part of the century, it has been completely renovated and offers massages, facials, thermal baths and body treatments. While this is the only bath house of the eight to be renovated for modern spa use, a few of the other bath houses have been restored for other uses and are certainly worth seeing.

After touring the Quapaw, we found several of the hot springs around town. It was evident because the steam from the hot water would fill the air above these openings. This water coming out stays a nice 143 degrees year round and is known to be more than 4,000 years old. Very cool….or should I say hot?

We opted for dinner at Belle Art Italian Ristorante (, which specializes in home-made pastas and specialty dishes. This is one very authentic Italian dining experience in the heart of the bath house historic district, courtesy of owners Penny & Chef Joe Gargano.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Girls Getaway to Arkansas - Day 1

You heard me talk about Hot Springs, Arkansas as a top travel trend for 2010 in a recent Daytime TV interview. Well, I recently got to experience the state that calls itself “The Natural State.”

I arrived in Little Rock and was greeted at the airport by Zoie. She drove me to downtown Little Rock where we toured the University of Arkansas Clinton School for Public Service ( and the William J. Clinton Presidential Library ( Regardless of how you feel about Bill Clinton, it is interesting to see all of the presidential memorabilia. In the library, visitors can find a replica of the Oval Office and (my favorite) a timeline of historical events that occurred while Clinton was in office.

We left the car at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and walked along the river to one of the four bridges that connect Little Rock with North Little Rock. As we strolled across the bridge we noticed a submarine along the shores of North Little Rock. Eager to investigate, we arrived just in time for the last tour of the day hosted by Greg Zonner, who was responsible for getting the submarine to North Little Rock. Greg explained that this submarine, the USS Razorback, was one of the longest-serving World War II submarines and was most recently used by the Turkish military prior to its retirement in Arkansas as part of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum ( We made our way down the stairs into the sub and walked the entire length of the vessel where we saw the bunks, mess hall, missiles, missile loaders, bathrooms and control room. Razorback conducted five combat patrols during World War II, sinking Japanese vessels, capturing Japanese POWs and rescuing American pilots who had been shot down. At the end of WWII, she was one of only 12 submarines selected to be present in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrender was signed. What a great piece of history parked here in Arkansas!

After all this sightseeing, it was time for a nice dinner with the girls at Lulav Eatery ( in Downtown Little Rock. I had the Mediterranean Pork - braised medallions of tenderloin topped with cranberry-bourbon dijon crème,served with gnocchi pasta and roasted vegetable medley. I was a member of the clean plate club that night…so good!

After dinner, we drove about 90 minutes to Mountain Harbor Resort and Spa ( located in Mt Ida and situated on the shores of Lake Ouachita. What impressed me as soon as I arrived was the attention to detail and personal service found at Mountain Harbor. Although we arrived late at night, I was so excited to see my name on the Welcome Sign and a personal greeting by Lodge Manager Pati Brown as she escorted us to our 3-bedroom, lakeside cabin. Mountain Harbor is owned by Bill Barnes and was the vision of his father, Hal. Bill lives and operates Mountain Harbor with his exceptional staff, most have been with him for more than 10 years. At Mountain Harbor, I felt like I joined a special family as I was greeted with some of the most hospitable and genuine people I have ever met.