Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Girls Getaway to Palm Beach

With beautiful beaches, world-class restaurants, art and antiques and one-of-a-kind shopping destinations, Palm Beach is the perfect place for a Girls Getaway. Not to mention the nation’s premier polo facility January - April and home to two major league baseball team’s Spring Training facilities.

Follow our adventures as we visit America’s first resort destination and enjoy our stay at The Brazilian Court Resort and Beach Club, which was rated #1 Resort Hotel in South Florida (2010) and a Top 30 Celebrity Secret Vacation Spot in the World by Travel + Leisure Magazine.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Best Spring Travel Destinations for 2011

Wondering where to go this Spring? Here are a few of our picks for some of the best Spring Travel Destinations:

Andalucia, Southern Spain
Spring is without a doubt the best time of the year to head over to southern Spain. With temperatures above 100 degrees in the summer, the weather can put a damper on sightseeing and most amenities are closed with locals on the siestas. So visiting Andalucia in the spring is the best option (and that means more tapas for you!). Madrid is one of Europe’s cheapest gateway cities. Andalucia is about 240 miles from Madrid and you can get there via car or train. Great sightseeing spots include Andulucias’ most admired cities, such as Cordoba, Granada and Seville. This beautiful Spanish region is rich in history and brings attractions like the Prado Museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site like the Alhambra.

Santa Monica, CA
Santa Monica (see photo above) is a great seaside community, with easy access to LA and the rest of southern California. Located 8 miles north of LAX, Santa Monica itself is a walkable 8 square miles and is comprised of eight distinct districts, each featuring it own character.
Recently named one of the "best beach cities in the world" by National Geographic, Santa Monica, the quintessential city by the sea, defines the essence of the California lifestyle. There’s tons to do at the beach...from swimming and surfing to biking and volleyball, from outdoor chess to beachside gymnastics. Plus, nearby attractions like the Santa Monica Pier, Muscle Beach, Disneyland and Magic Mountain are always fun to visit.

This spring break, families can enjoy the best seat on the beach at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel with the "SPRING BREAKS" PACKAGE featuring:

* Nightly accommodations in an luxury oceanfront guestroom or suite

* Two tickets to Pacific Ocean Amusement Park on the world-famous Santa Monica Pier

* Complimentary meals for children 12 and under

Carefree, AZ
Located just north of Scottsdale, you will find Carefree, Arizona. Typical of Carefree's character are its street names, such as Tranquil Trail and Easy Street. The motto of Carefree is "Home of Cowboys and Caviar, Where the Old West Meets the New." The town has 15 restaurants, which makes for 1 restaurant for every 247 people, the highest per capita ratio in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa, a Waldorf Astoria property, is set on 1,300 acres in the Sonoran Desert foothills. A nature lovers paradise, the resort's dramatic and innovative architecture blends with the surrounding desert landscape. Stone-colored adobe-style structures are grouped in low-rise clusters throughout the property. Envision yourself in a private casita with wood burning fireplace nestled among 12 million year old boulders in the evening. By day, enjoy hot air balloon rides, rock climbing, hiking, biking, golf or the spa. The resort offers several great Spring packages, such as Truly Boulders or Your Choice Golf & Spa.

Hershey, PA
If you love chocolate you will want to put a trip to Hershey on your travel list. Hershey,
appropriately named The Sweetest Place on Earth, is a world‐class resort destination
located in central Pennsylvania. It offers distinctive experiences wrapped in chocolate, where guests of all ages can enjoy a wide variety of entertainment and hospitality offerings that are quite exceptional in the Spring.
Everything here is chocolate themed, including The Hotel Hershey (with Chocolate Bingo and
Family S’mores Nights), Chocolate Spa (offering Spring Fling packages), Hersheypark
Theme Park, Hershey Gardens (known for its tulips) & ZooAmerica. They also have unique
chocolate opps like Create Your Own Candy Bar Attraction, Chocolate Lab Classes where you can make Tempting Chocolate Tulips and Falconry Classes.
Spring packages are available just in time for family fun during Easter or any other time this Spring.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Girls Getaway to Berlin - The Food

We had one more Berlin food item we wanted to try, so our search began for the perfect Currywurst, which is a fast-food dish of German origin consisting of hot pork sausage (German: Wurst) cut into slices and seasoned with curry sauce (regularly consisting of ketchup or tomato paste blended with curry) and generous amounts of curry powder, or a ready-made ketchup-based sauce seasoned with curry and other spices. Either we were super hungry or this is just delicious!

After so much eating it was hard to believe we had room for more food, but our last dinner in Berlin was at Balthazar, which is known for its risotto. Chef Holger Zurbruggen has an array of awards and TV credits to his name, and we found out why as soon as the first course of salmon, seared tuna, shrimp/prawn and scallop were served as our appetizer. It was followed by steak (that you could cut with a fork) and his amazing mushroom risotto, which was then followed be a phenomenal chocolate lava cake. Needless to say, we opted to walk home in hopes of walking off some of the incredible dinner we just consumed.

As we said our goodbyes the next morning, I was sad to leave my old friends (Jan and Emily) and to say goodbye to my new friends (Nubia, Jessica, Katy and Bree). It’s not always easy traveling to a foreign country with seven women, but we had a great group and made memories in this historic city that will last a lifetime. Thank to you to the Hotel Concorde Berlin and Laura Davidson PR. Dankeschön Berlin. Bis zum nächstes mal!

PHOTO: Currywurst...yum!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Girls Getaway to Berlin - The Art

The next morning we got a full tour of KaDeWe, the famous department store (and the largest in Europe). Since 1907, KaDeWe has provided luxury shopping to Berliners and visitors (think Harrods in London). With nearly 200,000 square feet of shopping space and 2,000 employees, KaDeWe is more than a department store. In fact, the sixth floor is The Gourmet Floor and features the largest delicatessen in Europe with roughly 34,000 products and about 500 employees on that floor alone, including 150 chefs and confectioners.

After seeing all of that food, we were ready for lunch at the Cafe at Me Collector’s Room. As if the food and basic Me exhibit weren’t enough to make us very happy (my favorite was the sphere made from mice skulls), we got to see the current exhibit, X-RATED, which was very...entertaining. As you can well imagine, many of the photos from that exhibit will NOT be posted on my website :). Although I am not the biggest art lover in the world, this was a great stop.

After lunch we met with with Miriam with GoArt for our guided Art & Fashion Tour along Mulackstrasse and the surrounding area. During this walking tour, we stopped in trendy and unique boutiques like Mayer, Starstyling, ha doung, Firma, Hut up, llot llov and vintage designer dress store Sterling Gold. Many thanks to Miriam for showing us the interesting fashion designers herein Berlin.

PHOTO: One piece of the X-RATED exhibit at Me Collector's Room.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Girls Getaway to Berlin - The Fashions

After a very good night’s sleep, I enjoyed breakfast on my floor at Club Etoile, which provides lovely panoramic views of the capital and a quiet ambiance to enjoy alone of with your fellow travelers. Our first stop this morning was a visit to C’est tout, a boutique within walking distance from the hotel. The owner/designer, Katja Will, used to be a stylist for MTV Europe and uses dresses as the key to every collection. She incorporates party dresses, along with silk and jersey dresses; all at very affordable prices. After some shopping, a must-do on our list was to have a Doner Kebab. What’s a doner kebab you ask? It’s a Turkish dish made of lamb meat (mainly) cooked on a vertical spit and sliced off to order. With a large Turkish population in Berlin, this is a popular meal, especially in the area referred to as Little Istanbul. Thank you Hasir Restaurant for my very first Doner Kebab!

One of the most unique and interesting parts of our trip was the Urban Living Tour, which allowed us to see inside the homes of several Berliners. Our first stop was to Edwin’s apartment. He is from Los Angeles and fell in love with Berlin during a visit here several years ago. An avid art collector, he entertained and informed us during the art tour around his apartment. We also visited a young family who had moved to Berlin from London in order to find a more affordable house. They raved about the city as well and showed us meaningful items they collected from around the world and used to decorate their flat. As more people visit the city, tourists are becoming residents. In fact, tourism in Berlin has increased 50% each year since the 2006 World Cup took place in Germany.

Dinner that night was at Hotel Concorde Berlin’s Brasserie Le Faubourg, the French restaurant located inside the hotel offering traditional French cuisine with a Mediterranean accent. As expected, the food, company and conversation were all wonderful. How about that kick stand, Katy?

PHOTO: C’est tout fashions.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Girls Getaway to Berlin - The Wall

At the beginning of 2011, I received an invitation to visit Berlin, Germany on a fashion/shopping themed trip, which was hosted by Hotel Concorde Berlin. After some initial research, I was intrigued to learn more about this historic city that doesn’t necessarily register high on the list of top European destinations. I started my journey by flying from Florida to NYC, then directly from NYC to Berlin. The Berlin airport was one of the easiest airports I have ever been in, especially for a large city. We arrived at the chic Hotel Concorde Berlin just off the fashionable Kurfuerstendamm Boulevard, in the heart of the City West. While driving to the hotel along the boulevard, we immediately knew the hotel’s location would be very convenient as it was nestled in the city’s fabulous shopping area. The hotel opened in 2005 and boasts a very strong French feel (due to the Concorde Hotel Group being based in France) and a very strong art concept throughout the building. Some of the suites feature some incredible views of the city, and are perfect for entertaining, which is why many celebrities opt to stay at this property during their time in Berlin.

After dropping our things off at the hotel, we made our way to Literaturcafe for lunch. This quaint setting provided the perfect opportunity for us to relax after the long flight and learn all about our itinerary for the next few days from our tour guide, Jessica. The delicious food and Ginger Lemonade made the meal!

After lunch, we started our Urban Insider Tour with Gabriella of Berlinagenten to get an overview of the city and gain some important historical knowledge. Berlin is considered to be what NYC was in the 1980s. It is relatively inexpensive to live here, which is why artists and other creative types are opting to move here. Although it is a city with a lot of wounds, many people say the city is “poor but sexy” as it is tied with Barcelona for the European city with the most artists as it’s home to more than 450 art galleries. And where you find art, you also find fashion. Many Berlin labels are popping up as designers recognize the opportunities in this emerging city. Berlin has three fashion fairs (including Mercedes Benz Fashion Week), six fashion schools and many young labels, which make shopping here unique and fun.

During our tour, we saw the Holocaust Monument, the German Parliament building, the Brandenburg Gate (where President Reagan made his famous speech, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”), and (of course) what’s left of the Berlin Wall, which divided the city from 1961-1989. Little is left of the Wall at its original site, which was destroyed almost everywhere. Three long sections are still standing: a 263-foot piece of the first (westernmost) wall at the Topography of Terror, site of the former Gestapo headquarters, half way between Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdamer Platz; a longer section of the second (easternmost) wall, nicknamed East Side Gallery; and a third section that is partly reconstructed, in the north at Bernauer Straffe, which was turned into a memorial in 1999. Some other isolated fragments and a few watchtowers also remain in various parts of the city. Seeing the Wall and hearing the stories of how communist rule dominated people’s lives and prevented them from enjoying the basic freedoms that many of us only know as common life, made me deeply grateful for the democracy and freedoms we in the U.S. enjoy. It also shed light on the emerging energy you feel while in Berlin as this city houses people who can now travel from one side of the city to another and who can think and do what they want (versus what they are told).

After our information-packed tour, we made our way back to the hotel to enjoy a Jet-Lag Rejuvenation Massage at the hotel’s rejuvenating wellness area (how appropriate). If I ever find a man who can massage my feet like the masseuse did in Berlin, I will, without hesitation, marry him just for that skill alone :).

Our hosts must have known we needed a “pick-me-up” before dinner, so they appropriately scheduled a cocktail tasting at the hotel’s Lutece Bar. We sampled several Berlin concoctions, including the Berlin Beauty (my personal fave). After cocktails, we made our way to dinner at the Cookies Cream, which is an all-vegan restaurant about 10 minutes from the hotel. What the restaurant lacked in location, it made up for in fabulous food (the praise of a meat eater at an all-vegetable restaurant should not be underestimated). My favorite was my Brussel Sprout Cannelloni, which was delicious (even without meat). The fun beverages kept flowing with my new drink of choice, the Vodka Rhubarb!

PHOTO: In front of the Berlin Wall.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Orlando Women's Conference

Join The Getaway Girl on April 5 at the Orlando Women's Conference - a day for information, inspiration and empowerment! She will be there speaking about her journey to travel stardom at The Peabody Hotel. For more information, visit

Friday, March 11, 2011

Girls Getaway to Berlin

As the capital of Germany, Berlin is home to renowned universities, research institutes, sporting events, orchestras, museums and personalities. The urban and historical legacy has made it a popular setting for international film productions. The city is recognized for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts, public transportation networks and a high quality of life. The Hotel Concorde Berlin will host us for this shopping.fahion themed trip! Designed inside and out by renowned Berlin architect Jan Kleihues, the Hotel Concorde Berlin is characterized by elegant, understated design.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cleveland Travel Examiner - Key West Book

Many thanks to the Cleveland Travel Examiner for their recent online article, Books to take to Florida, for mentioning the Girls Getaway Guide to Key West: Leave Your Baggage at Home.

To view the article, visit

Friday, March 4, 2011

Girls Getaway to Jamaica - Day 4

Our last full day in Jamaica started with breakfast served to our villa followed by spa treatments at the Kiyara Spa. The spa features three outdoor massage areas that resemble a tree house. Once again, I had an incredible view of the water and fell asleep as the sound of the water put me in a trance.

After spa treatments, we met at the beachside bar for drinks (the special that day was the Dirty Banana) and we boarded our boat “For Your Eyes Only” and cruised down the coastline to Caliente Restaurant on Mamee Bay Beach for lunch and (of course) more drinks! Lunch was terrific and we all enjoyed watching Marc ride the waves on the boat ride home. Many thanks to Mary for setting this up for us! After a few more hours (and celeb sightings) on the beach, we met at Mary’s house for drinks and appetizers. She had invited an array of guests, so it was nice to meet some new people and hear how passionate they are about Jamaica Inn. For our last meal in Jamaica, we had dinner on the beach. Toasts were made and the drinks kept flowing as we reminisced about the trip and had some entertainment provided by a fellow beach goer. I turned in early due to my early morning flight, but it was sad to say goodbye to my great group of travel companions and the hospitality of Jamaica itself.

Many thanks to Round Hill Hotel & Villas, Jamaica Inn and The Brandman Agency for hosting such a wonderful trip to amazing properties with exceptional people.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Festival Destinations - Daytime TV Show

Interested in attending a festival dedicated to chocolate? How about running away and joining the circus? Or, how about a festival dedicated to duct tape? Watch this recent Daytime TV Segment on Festival Destinations:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Girls Getaway to Jamaica - Day 3

After saying our goodbyes at Round Hill, we loaded up in our van for our road trip to Jamaica Inn. We had to make one stop at Scothie’s, which is known for its amazing Jerk Chicken (like In N Out to burgers in California). After getting beers and chicken, we were on our way. I am not sure if it was the beer, chicken or the fact that we were all confined in a car for two hours, but the crazy stories started and Marc (the only guy) wanted to jump out of the van. Welcome to a Girls Getaway, Marc!

When we arrived at Jamaica Inn, I fell in love with its signature blue color that is specially mixed for the resort. It is the perfect hue to match the ocean and gives the resort a special ambiance you feel as soon as you arrive. Jamaica Inn has won several awards as World’s Best Island Hotels ranked Jamaica Inn the # 3 Island Hotel in World in March 2011 and Travel and Leisure’s 500 World’s Best Hotels 2011 list ranked Jamaica Inn # 1 in Jamaica, # 3 in the Caribbean and # 38 in the World.

Mary Phillips, the general manager (and attitude) of Jamaica Inn, greeted us and escorted us to lunch at their exceptional open-air dining room. The food was superb, and we were all ready for a nap as Mary then led us to our rooms and villas. All of the Inn’s 47 suites overlook the beach, ocean or both, and the villas are absolutely amazing. Ariane and I shared Villa #5 with its incredible Caribbean Sea/beach view, steps to the beach, private pool, two bedrooms and baths and mini kitchen. I sat on the back porch listening to the waves and checking email. Not a bad way to work. We enjoyed cocktails and dinner with Mary on the terrace next to the band (who played The Big Bamboo) as our bamboo-loving group member got her groove back!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Girls Getaway to Jamaica - Day 2

I once again enjoyed breakfast the next morning gazing at our lovely view, but this time my roomies were there to enjoy it with me. John took us on a tour of the resort (we even saw Ralph Lauren), then made our way to the spa for our highly-anticipated treatments.

Australian John was my masseuse, and this was the first time I thought about asking someone to massage me and talk to me at the same time...just so I could hear his accent. I am not sure if it was John, the ambiance of Round Hill or the view during my massage (maybe all three), but this was one of the best massages I have ever had. We had the afternoon to ourselves, so we enjoyed lunch and lounged around the beach and pool areas. What a tough life!!

That night we enjoyed cocktail hour at Josef’s villa, dinner, drinks, late night hot tub and an I, Claudius re-enactment, which was a great way to spend our last night at Round Hill. After breakfast the next morning, Serene took us on a hike to the caves and around the resort, which was great to stretch our legs before getting into the van for our 2-hour trip to Ochos Rios.