Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pelican Hill Dining

The food at Pelican Hill is exquisite. I know, I know...I say that a lot, but it's true! The view will make your heart soar, I'm not being melodramatic: I'm serious and the Italian menu will take you on a delicious culinary journey. They are serious about italian food at Pelican Hill...gelato is hand made using organic ingredients from a local farm every day...and it's exquisite, extremely high quality...and I like to think I'm something of a gelato expert...lord knows, I sample enough of it to know! But seriously now the food here is no joke!

Andrea is the uber-high-end restaurant on the property...the pasta is also handmade and I highly recommend it. In fact, if you make reservations at Andrea it is a food crime NOT to order pasta because it won't taste quite the same anywhere else, at least not in the United States.

The view (above) is so beautiful...it feels like dining on Mount Olympus and eating with the gods...yes, of course, it's expensive but this blog isn't a guide to Cheap Eats it's about getting a glimpse into what can be, it's about the art of travel and everyone knows you can't debase art with talk of money:-) So yes, it's expensive but it's worth it. Steve Jobs once said "I try to live every day as if it were my last." If I were to die tomorrow I would have no regrets about dining at Pelican Hill and take my word for it: nor would you!

The Coliseum Grill overlooks the Pool and it's a little more casual...of course "casual" is a relative term...it was a little chilly in the evening, despite the outdoor built-in heaters, and the waitor brought out blankets which I thought was a beautiful touch...

Pelican Hill Resort...The Bungalows

As I've mentioned before I have a passion for hotels and more than anything I love discussing them here with you all! The most important element of any hotel is its rooms...yes, the lobby can be great, the restaurant fantastic but ultimately if you are going to spend the night (and the money) then the room needs to be up to snuff. The High Priestess of any room is undoubtedly the bed and the sermon she preaches are the bed linens. I've said this before but in my book a prerequisite for any 5 star hotel is top of the line Egyptian cotton sheets and a plush mattress. The second prerequisite is an amazing bathroom. Those are the first things I check as soon as I enter a room and of course impeccable cleanliness is a must, that goes without saying!

So, the rooms at the Pelican Hill resort off the coast of Southern California (see my previous and forthcoming posts on the resort) pass the prerequisite test with flying colors.  Now it gets trickier to differentiate the amazing rooms from the "in a league of their own" rooms. Decor starts to become important...questions like "when was this last updated, renovated?" start to be asked unconsciously...once again Pelican Hill had state of the art appliances and everything was, well, practically new.

The color palette of California neutrals allows the extraordinary ocean views to play a central role in the rooms, or bungalows as they are called, at Pelican Hill. Indeed, there are no elevators to get to your room only exquisitely lush courtyards leading to bungalows where visitors spend the night. A large fireplace in the center of my room was the great focal point, especially in the evenings...one simple flick of the switch and the sound of soothing flames filled the atmosphere. But most beautiful of all was the extraordinary balcony with ocean view...it will melt the hardest of hearts and turn the greatest cynic into a ridiculous optimist...

Golf at Pelican Hill

Pelican Hill is a golf lover's paradise with courses designed by Tom Fazio. At the Pelican Hill Golf Club they've thought of everything...professional forecaddies, luxurious locker rooms, practice facilities, shoe attendants, golf butler and a million other ways to pamper the golf enthusiast...These pictures are not hyped up versions of what the golf course actually looks like, if anything it is even more beautiful in the flesh. This place truly is a little slice paradise here on earth...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spa at Pelican Hill

Pelican Hill, on the coast of Newport Beach in Southern California, was voted the #1 Resort in the United States by Conde Nast, so when I visited the Spa I had high expectations. There's a lot of pressure when you're Number 1, it's not easy being the best and the staff at the Pelican Hill Spa have practiced their art like a concert pianist practices on his way to Carnegie Hall...

Like any top of the line Spa there were lots of amenities like a cedar sauna, eucalypus steam room and a fountain designed at the perfect angle to allow for the most harmonious trickling of water but my favorite was the Roman salt bath featured below...
The staff cleans this room, changes towels every five minutes...literally. It keeps the room in a perpetual photo shoot ready state which is exactly what you want from a visit to the Spa...picture perfect...

I had a classic spa experience. If you want to get away for the day, this is the perfect place to do it.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Dining at Keswick Hall, Orient Express Property

The Dining at Keswick Hall can be very fine indeed. No, it's not cheap but yes, it is worth it. Not necessarily for the nutritional value but for the experience. Keswick Hall is somewhat removed, although only a short drive away, from the main shopping district in Charlottesville. It's designed to be the kind of place you go to for the overall experience so if you spend the night I recommend dining at one of their restaurants. Splurge, live a little...Steve Jobs said "Live every day as if you were to die tomorrow" and I couldn't agree more...If you want to dine like Thomas Jefferson then Keswick Hall will indulge your patriotic fantasies!

Afternoon Tea...$20 for tea (exceptional), scones, pastries, finger sandwiches etc...in an elegant decor is one way to spend a genteel afternoon with a few friends.

I recommend visiting Keswick in the late Spring or early Summer. It's very beautiful in Winter but you might be the only one there. In the Summer everything is in bloom and the Virginian countryside is one of the most beautiful in the country...but don't just take my word for it, Thomas Jefferson said it long before I did...

Keswick Hall: Activities

Keswick Hall located in the gorgeous countryside of Charlottesville Virginia has a slew of activities to keep one busy during one's stay...

A Golf Butler...yes, you heard me, a golf butler is available should you desire one...of course, it's going to cost you. Whoever said the best things in life can't be bought? They were lying...

This could be you...casually observing the grounds...

Fly Fishing

Hot Air Ballooning

Clay Shooting in the surrounding Virginia countryside...for all you Downton Abbey fans this is the activity to try!

Explore the local vineyards

UVA is a short drive away

As is Monticello...a very special place indeed! I particularly liked the grounds, the gardens are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen...

The Keswick Hall grounds. Keswick does the Orient Express brand a service in its impeccable decor and quality of service. If you ever find yourself in Charlottesville then Keswick Hall is the place to stay!

Keswick Hall, Charlottesville Virginia

Keswick Hall is an Orient Express hotel in Charlottesville Virginia. It's absolutely perfect in every way...really. If you want Colonial American opulence, then this is IT!!! The surrounding countryside is superb and the decor immaculate.

This was my room...I LOVED the four poster bed, the huge balcony...I felt like a colonial aristocrat, so to speak...Thomas Jefferson eat your heart out!

Sea Island Revisited

I loved Sea Island, off the coast of Georgia, so much I decided I needed to revisit it with you all! Check out my earlier blog "Sea Island AKA The Garden of Eden". I know I only blog about the most absolutely perfect hotel experiences and at times it's so hard to say which was better than the other, but Sea Island is the name that keeps popping up whenever I try to make those comparisons...

The Cloister

An Aerial View

The Georgian Room...one of the best meals EVER!!!

The suites really DO look like this!

If you haven't taken a look at their website yet you need to

The ARIA Las Vegas

The ARIA Las Vegas is one of my favorite hotels. There is an undeniable feeling of excitement, of all things "cool" and modern. The floor to ceiling wall windows display the Las Vegas view like nothing else and a remote control by the bed allows you to open the curtains, play music and a slew of other commands.

The rooms are sleek, the bed linens extraordinary. I have read reviews about this hotel saying the beds were the most comfortable in the world: at first I thought it must be an exaggeration but after having slept in them...well, they just might be!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spa at Aria Las Vegas

The Spa at Aria Las Vegas. I loved it. Incredible. I'm not your usual "I love the spa" type of girl...the spa really has to be incredible for me to enjoy it. I arrived in Las Vegas at 3am...yes, 3am, I have a gift for arriving at a destination at the most inconvenient time. I dawdled around the hotel for 2 hours until the spa opened. 5am at the spa. I'm sure the receptionist thought it was a little early to start pampering oneself but then again it was Las Vegas and she has undoubtedly seen crazier things than that.

I LOVED this Spa. Maybe because I was exhausted and needed to freshen up? Maybe but I think I would have really, really liked it regardless. It was sleek, sexy, cool...I knew I had arrived in Las Vegas.

This outdoor co-ed pool was my favorite. The picture doesn't show off the view...the mountains in the distance and a constant flux of airplanes and helicopters flying past. The pool chairs were amazing with this fantastic canape like shade cover. At night the pool was illuminated. This picture doesn't do it justice. I'm not easy to please, and I was very pleased by this Spa.

The salt room. It sounds very spa-ish but between you and me I didn't really see the point. I'm quite certain the salt on the walls did nothing for my skin and since I don't have respitory problems I guess I'll never find out if it helps with those as it is reported to have medicinal qualities. You wear headphones as you lie on these sofas (very comfortable) and the music is supposed to vibrate through your body. If you put your ipod on really loud the music will vibrate through your body in the same way. So, no...I wasn't wildly impressed with the salt room. It was however very chic, sexy and a great place to take a rejuvenating nap!

I LOVED these pools!!! They vary in temperature from warm, very warm to freezing and if you soak in them (in that temperature order) I promise you will come out feeling like a new person. I came out feeling as though I had been injected with vitamins!

I did not get a massgae here so I cannot comment.

The Spa at the ARIA Las Vegas has amazing lounge areas, ladies you have stations with mirrors, hair utensils, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, deodorant, snacks, chips, drinks...I am not a Spa girl and I stayed at this one all day, that's how relaxing it was not to mentioned seriously modern and luxurious. After this experience you'll be ready for a night on the town in Las Vegas!