Friday, May 20, 2011

Girls Getaway to Playa del Carmen - Thank You!

Although we received some sad news from home during our trip, we had an amazing experience and this is one resort that I will definitely return to. Anyone looking for a great trip with beautiful beaches, lovely rooms, amazing food and the best staff should consider Grand Velas All Suite & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya. WOW!!!!

Thank you to Grand Velas All Suite Resort & Spa, Riviera Maya for an unforgettable trip and some great new memories I can share with one of my favorite gal mom. Thank you to the incredible staff at the resort and Xel-Ha for your hospitality. We will be back!

To view all of the photos from this amazing trip, click here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Girls Getaway to Playa del Carmen - Day 3

On Saturday morning Roger drove us to Xel-Ha for a day at the park. Xel-Ha is a nature water park that far exceeded our expectations. Like the resort, Xel Ha is all inclusive, so you don’t have to pay extra for lockers, rafting tubes, snorkel gear, food, beverages or alcoholic drinks. With our guide, Sergio, we spent the entire day there and loved the natural cenotes, cliff diving, river tubing, snorkeling, ziplining, snuba, beach, Mayan Cave, as well as nature trail exploration. Visitors can also swim with dolphins and manatees here, and there’s a kid’s playground, shopping and a spa (which we indulged). Xel-Há has not only excelled as a water park at the highest international standards, but constantly strives to maintain its philosophy of appreciating nature, which has been proven by the numerous ecological awards received. As we left, all of the hanging hammocks were occupied with visitors on siesta....looked amazing! Thank you Sergio and Xel-Ha for a wonderful time!

Our last dinner at Grand Velas Riviera Maya was at their signature restaurants, Cocina de Autor, which was recently named one of the “100 Best New Food & Drink Experiences” in the world by Food & Wine magazine. This Spanish restaurant features a world-class menu created by internationally acclaimed Spanish chefs Bruno Oteiza and Mikel Alonso. Each day at Cocina de Autor brings new choices in Spanish haute cuisine when Chefs Oteiza and Alonso present their signature, gourmet Spanish Basque dishes in the a la carte menu of specialties. Incredible dishes range from Light and Refreshing Lobster Salad, Venison in Love, Fresh Fish with Wild Mushrooms, and Veal Chops Roasted for 36 Hours. Quince, Cheese and Pecan Cigars and Chocolate with Honeycomb Wax are just a taste of what’s in store to complete your meal. We ordered the Tasting Menu with Wine Pairing and were blown away. Each time they brought a new course, it trumped the last one. Three of the notables were: a gazpacho ball (yes, somehow they got gazpacho inside a ball), mango souffle with a gin and tonic foam and the beef dish that was moving and waving to us (watch this video to see). This is by far one of the best dining experiences of my life!

PHOTOS: Ziplining at Xel-Ha.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Girls Getaway to Playa del Carmen - Day 2

The next morning we woke up to some sad news from home. As we made our way to Azul (restaurant for breakfast), the smiling and friendly staff lifted our spirits as they wished up good morning. We made our way to Azul and were completely impressed by the breakfast buffet served here. If you couldn’t find something fabulous to eat here, you weren’t hungry. Just the juice selection alone was not only delicious but also very pretty. I ordered a Bloody Mary, and they wheeled out an entire cart full of booze....perfecto!

After breakfast we joined Anna Marie for a tour of the property, which included a visit to the Ambassador with its piano bar, karaoke bar, pool, boutique and restaurants; the Master with its restaurants, spa, convention space, jungle area, pool and boutiques; and the our own Grand Class that also has its own boutique, pool with swim up bar and restaurants.

After the tour, we made our way to the swim up bar for some much-needed cocktails. After we informed Oscar that we were grieving from our sad news from back home, he insisted we do tequila shots. After we finally gave in, he informed us we needed to do them while laying on the bar. We finally agreed, and the tequila helped ease our sadness. We laid out by the pool with our frozen cocktails, enjoyed the pool area and ordered a perfect lunch of fish ceviche, salad and grilled vegetables. The best “pool food” I have ever had!

After lunch we were transported to the award-winning spa (located at the Master location) by the resort’s on-property shuttle service. We arrived 90 minutes before our spa treatment appointments in order to experience the spa’s Water Journey. This terrific water experience starts with a sauna and steam room session, followed by time in the “ice room.” After going from very hot to very cold, we were sent to the clay room for some skin and hair therapy. After this, we went to the hot and cold wading pools, then on to the big pool for water massage therapy. This was super cool. Did we have to leave???? Yes, but the fact that we were leaving our water journey for massages made it a little easier. As someone who gets massaged a lot all over the world, I can easily sa this was definitely in the top 10 of massages! Thank you Grand Velas Riviera Maya!

Dinner that evening was at Frida, the resort’s Mexican restaurant. Grand Velas Riviera Maya celebrates the legacy of the famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo at this restaurant that offers Mexican cuisine with a modern twist. Each dish is itself a masterpiece that reflects the rich culinary heritage of Mexico with a menu that features grilled flank fillet with roasted cactus leaves and Chipotle chili pepper stuffed with cheese, red snapper fillet in zucchini flower sauce with corn mushrooms, and grilled portobello mushrooms and endives covered with Guajillo chili pepper cream. Desserts are equally impressive with options such as tres leches cake with caramel sauce, Mexican chocolate mousse, or homemade sorbet.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Girls Getaway to Playa del Carmen - Day 1

When I got the invite to visit the Grand Velas All Suite & Spa Resort, Riviera Maya in May and an offer to bring someone, I asked my mom if she’d like to take a Mother’s Day trip with me to Mexico’s Playa del Carmen. She immediately said yes!

It took us less than two hours to get from Orlando to Cancun (thanks Jetblue). We arrived at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya and were incredibly impressed with the entrance to the resort, which made an understated statement with its white walls, turquoise water and white sandy beach in lieu of landscaping. The wooden doors slowly rolled open and we drove onto the property. I immediately felt a sense of relaxation as we meandered along the driveway and through the lush, green natural vegetation. We learned there are three hotels on the property: Grand Class (adult only oceanfront), Ambassador (family oceanfront) and Master (family/convention located in the jungle). Roger, our driver, took us to the Grand Class, which would be our home for the next several days.

We were so excited to be there and the gorgeous beach lured us straight to the water where we napped on the beachside beds. Although we were completely relaxed, we were getting hungry. The Grand Velas Riviera Maya works with acclaimed chefs from around the world, including Spain, France and Mexico, so we were looking forward to our dining experience here. All of this in an all-inclusive resort (yes, all food, drinks and alcoholic beverages are included)!

We headed to our first dinner at Grand Velas Riviera Maya’s Piaf, one of the resort’s eight on-site restaurants. Piaf is the French themed restaurant with an impressive gourmet menu created by the acclaimed French chef Michel Mustiere. Gourmet specialties include Chateaubriand, lamb filet with thyme sauce and ratatouille, sole meuniere, traditional French onion soup, and delectable desserts. We started with martinis, then ordered the tasting menu with wine pairings. Our taste buds had one awesome adventure with each course being better than the next. We quickly found out that the food tastes as good as it looks, and the presentation is incredible.

PHOTO: Dessert sampler at Piaf.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Submit Your Girls Getaway - San Diego

This month's Girlfriend Getaway photo was submitted by Emily Minton of Tampa, FL who recently visited San Diego. She writes: This was at Ponte Winery in Temecula about 11/2 hours outside of San Diego with Christina.
emily in san diego

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mother's Day Getaways - Daytime TV

Where are the best places to take mom on a getaway? Whether she wants a tropical escape or one-of-a-kind shopping, here are some suggestions from The Getaway Girl® from her recent Daytime TV Segment. To view, click on the image above.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mother's Day Getaway to Mexico

I have been invited to experience AAA Five Diamond Grand Velas Riviera Maya, the latest and most sophisticated iteration of the ultra-luxury, all-inclusive resort experience in the Mexican Caribbean.

Sharing jungle and beach settings, the Grand Velas Riviera Maya features one of the best spas in Mexico (winner of Virtuoso’s Best Spa for 2010); Michelin star quality restaurants at the hands of world renowned chefs, including disciples of the famed Arzak of Northern Spain; dramatic architecture and organic design, and dedicated butler concierge services and a staff/guest ratio of three to one.

Follow our trip as I treat my mother to a very special Mother's Day Girls Getaway to Mexico later this week!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to Get Along on Your Next Girls Getaway?

Happy Travel Tuesday everyone! One question I get asked quite a lot is "how can I make sure everyone gets along on our Girls Getaway?" For some proactive tips, be sure to visit my website for Planning Tips.

You can also read a recent online article on that provides some helpful information, with a tip from The Getaway Girl herself.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Getaway Girl to Speak at ABWA Lakeland on May 11

The American Business Women Association's (ABWA) mission is to bring together businesswomen of diverse occupations and to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally through leadership, education, networking support and national recognition. The Getaway Girl® will speak at their May 11th Lakeland, FL chapter meeting. For more information, visit