ROSEWOOD PUEBLA

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Rosewood is putting Puebla, Mexico on the map. The hotel is housed in a set of historic buildings, restored with a beautiful blend of traditional and contemporary décor. The city and people of Puebla were the primary source of inspiration behind Rosewood’s 4th Mexican property. The downtown area is a designated Unesco World Heritage site, with a rich history and culinary traditions. It’s the perfect place for travelers seeking an enriching experience in a sophisticated and elegant atmosphere.

BOOK YOUR STAY WITH US TO RECEIVE DAILY BREAKFAST, ROOM UPGRADES & MORE!

ROOMS: The hotel is housed in a set of historical buildings from different eras. It’s filled with 78 rooms and suites, surrounding a beautiful private courtyard. Each room is residential in style, showcasing traditional craftsmanship. The décor pays tribute to the region’s heritage, with ceramic floors, colorful tiles, and local artwork. Bathrooms have large soaking tubs and heated floors.


POOL: The rooftop pool is lined with lounge chairs overlooking the colorful buildings of Puebla. Take in the stunning views of the city and nearby volcanoes as you sip on a margarita, eating Mexican tapas.


SPA: The Sense spa has four treatment rooms with a wide range of personalized services. The menu was inspired by centuries of ancient traditions and healing techniques and they use a variety of local ingredients. The goal is to find a harmonic balance between mind, body and soul. 


RESTAURANT & BAR: Pasquinel Bistrot is the hotel’s signature restaurant. You can dine casually in the garden courtyard or opt for an elegant experience in the private dining room. Café Azul Talavera is a more laidback, street-side café with a European feel.


BAR: Bar Los Lavaderos has a handsome and sophisticated feel to it, the go-to place for a creative cocktail. There’s also a rooftop bar with breathtaking views of the city, serving Mexican tapas, local charcuterie and margaritas.


GETTING THERE: Fly into Mexico City, and take a scene two-hour drive southeast to Puebla.

 

SMARTFLYER EXCLUSIVES:

  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Guaranteed room upgrade at time of booking, subject to availability
  • Early check-in subject to availability, late check-out guaranteed
  • Personalized welcome amenity upon arrival

Rates start at $250++. Ready to plan your trip? Contact Kelly to get started: hello@kellyktravel.com

As seen in Sophistacated Living St. Louis Magazine. Photos courtesy of Rosewood Hotels.

Checking in: DORADO BEACH

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Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve is the perfect escape for a long weekend. This slice of heaven is like an exotic sanctuary, surrounded by lush tropical forests and peaceful beaches. Enchanting tree frogs sing throughout the night, making for the perfect soundtrack to paradise. The hotel is located on a private plantation that once belonged to the Rockefeller Family, along Puerto Rico's Caribbean Coast. I surprised my husband with this trip after he graduated from Washington University's MBA program. He knew we were going away, but didn't know where. His only request: a beach. The resort has a laid-back feel with a focus on nature and wellness - the perfect place to unwind after a week of finals and celebrate his accomplishments!

BOOK YOUR STAY WITH US TO RECEIVE DAILY BREAKFAST, HOTEL CREDIT, UPGRADES & MORE!

ROOMS: The rooms are split up on two sides of the plantation, east beach and west beach. All of them have beautiful ocean views, but the east beach is not swimmable which is why I prefer the west beach. There are a variety of room types including suites, penthouses, residences and the the crown jewel of the resort, Su Casa Villa. We stayed in the West Beach Plunge Reserve, which is perfect for couples. We had our own terrace with a private plunge pool just steps from the beach. All the rooms are very spacious with neutral tones and contemporary decor. The bathrooms are stunning, featuring an indoor/outdoor rain forest shower with deep soaking tub.

POOL: There are two oceanview pools on property. I especially loved the infinity edge Positivo pool. It's surrounded by lush green gardens and towering palm trees overlooking the ocean. It's calming and rustic in the most luxurious way - you'll never want to leave. There's also a natural water park built into old ruins, featuring two water slides and a lazy river. My husband and I went right when it opened and had the place to ourselves. So fun for all ages!

SPA: I would travel all the way to Dorado Beach just for this experience. Spa Botanico spans five-acres of gardens. When you walk in, you're escorted to the hydro-therapy area, complete with outdoor showers, plunge pools and a steam room. Surrounded by natural beauty, this place is a haven for pure relaxation. The spa offers private consults with the “Mantos Santos” (healing hands) who concoct a mixture of local herbs and botanicals to incorporate into your treatment. Don't miss the signature treehouse massage, set on an open air platform perched high above the ground. 

RESTAURANTS: There are several great spots to choose from at the resort. Mi Casa is the signature restaurant on property, by renowned chef José Andrés. The restaurant is high-end, featuring Spanish tapas and rum-based cocktails. If you're looking for something more casual, Encanto Beach Club and the Positivo Sandbar offer fresh, local ingredients. La Cocina Gourmet is the place to go for Puerto Rican coffees, homemade gelato and other tasty treats. They also offer cooking classes!

BAR: Positivo Sandbar is my favorite happy hour spot. Grab a seat in the oversized basket chairs behind the bar, or opt for a table in the sand. 

KIDS: Dorado Beach warmly welcomes the whole family. There are several room options to make it comfortable for everyone: including suites and 2-5 bedroom residences. 

GETTING THERE: Flying into Puerto Rico is so easy! There are several direct flights to San Juan from most major cities and because it's a U.S. Territory, you don't have to deal with customs. The resort is a 40 minute drive from the airport.

 

SmartFlyer Exclusives

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests in Mi Casa by Jose Andres
  • $150.00 Resort credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in subject to availability, late check-out guaranteed
  • Personalized welcome from general manager
  • First priority on room and configuration preferences
  • Complimentary customized activity or service

Checking in: ANDAZ MAYAKOBA

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Style meets nature at this eco-friendly resort.

Trendy, lively and colorful. Andaz focuses on the vibrancy of the local Mayan culture, art and cuisine. The youthful ambience is enticing for couples and families alike.

BOOK YOUR STAY WITH US TO RECEIVE DAILY BREAKFAST, HOTEL CREDIT, UPGRADES & MORE!

ROOMS:  There are 200+ rooms split up between the lagoon and the ocean. I prefer the rooms on the beach, with beautiful ocean views. All of them have nice, big balconies. The decor is modern with clean lines and pops of colorful Mayan touches.


POOL & GYM: There are two pools: one by the lagoon and one near the ocean. The lagoon pool has a great set-up, with fun floats and a lively atmosphere. The oceanside pool is just steps from the beach, next to the Ceviche and Taco restaurants. The fitness center is state-of-the art, with glass floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lagoon pool.


SPA: The spa feels like you're in the jungle, with airy treatment rooms and Mayan influences. The full-service spa and salon has a variety of massages, facials as well as manicures and haircare. I highly recommend the signature Naum Rituals, which includes a Mayan time of reflection and a Mayan celebration to balance your experience and reconnect with the universe.


RESTAURANT: The food is fantastic. Breakfast is a great mix of traditional Mexican dishes but also offers a good amount of healthy options. There are three casual restaurants on property: Cocina Milagro, Taco and Ceviche. Casa Amante is the resort's flagship restaurant. The house-inspired concept makes you feel right at home, with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The menu is made up of Latin American inspired dishes.


BAR:  I love the bar at Casa Amate. Go for happy hour and sip on one of their signature mezcal drinks in the courtyard, overlooking the lagoon at sunset.


KIDS: Yes! There is a great kids club, that hosts daily activities both indoors and outdoors. There are also nightly events that are fun for the whole family.


GETTING THERE: Fly into Cancun and it's a quick and easy drive 40 minutes south to Mayakoba. I'd recommend booking transfers through the hotel. The drivers serve up your choice of water or cerveza (beer). They also have cold towels and Mexican candies.

 

SmartFlyer Exclusives

  • Upgrade to the next room category on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast buffet for up to two in room guests, served at Cocina Milagro
  • $120 USD Resort credit, per room, per stay which can be used towards a professional photo shooting (4 photos per room, per stay; this option will take away the whole credit), Spa treatments or meals in any of our four (4) restaurants. (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Farewell gift local to the region, such as an artisan craft or sweet treat

Checking in: UNICO 20 87

This adults-only resort takes luxury all-inclusive to another level with a culturally immersive experience.

Authentic culture meets modern design, this place is hip and swanky. I visited the property with a girlfriend and we had a blast! It was the perfect girls getaway and we couldn't stop talking about coming back with a big group of friends. We also ran into a lot of honeymooners and other couples there. I think this is a great spot for people who are social and are looking for more of a "scene" but nothing too rowdy. 

BOOK YOUR STAY WITH US TO VIP YOUR TRIP!

ROOMS: The decor blends mid-century modern design with Mayan culture. There are several different room categories, but all of them are very spacious with naturally sourced materials. The ground floor rooms have swim-out pools and all of the balcony rooms have outdoor hydro spa tubs. My favorite room is the Alcoba Oceanfront, with panoramic views of the ocean.


POOL & GYM: There are three are pools on property. The two at the entrance of the resort are more lively with music and activities. The third is the "quiet pool" - tucked away on the side of the resort offering a more peaceful and relaxing environment.


SPA: The spa has a wide range of treatments with locally-inspired beauty rituals. There is also a salon on site as well as an indoor-outdoor hydrotherapy facility. Select treatments are available for just a 20% service fee.


RESTAURANT: Don't let "all-inclusive" scare you away here. They made no sacrifices when it came to the food and drink menu - everything is top-notch. There are four restaurants on property, all with very different styles. 2087 has a casual beach-side vibe, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favorite dinner was sushi at Mura House but I also really liked the Italian food at Mi Carasa and Mexican at Cuvea Siete.


BAR: There are several bars on property, but the Palmera Lounge is my favorite. It mimics the Cuban cocktail clubs of the 1940s with craft cocktails, live entertainment, and a cigar bar.


KIDS: No kids allowed, but it would be a great trip for a family of adults.


GETTING THERE: The resort is about an hour from the Cancun Airport, between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. The name comes from the coordinates of where the resort is located, 20 degrees north and 87 degrees west

 

ICELAND

The raw and rugged beauty of Iceland is captivating. You can’t drive more than a mile without wanting to stop and take pictures. And every time I jumped out of the car with my camera, I’d find myself memorized by my surroundings. Iceland has a funny way of surprising you with her beauty, time and time again.

My husband and I spent one week navigating the winding roads of southwest Iceland. Road-tripping is the best way to do it, but Mother Nature was moody. We’d start with clear blue skies, then get some rain that eventually turned to snow. Then it was back to sunshine and rainbows.

We had a jam-packed itinerary with a trip to the blue lagoon, hiking a glacier, horseback riding, and snorkeling. It was all incredible, but Iceland is busy! There are busloads of tourists checking things off their list. We were turned off by the crowds and started searching for something more secluded. That’s what sent us hiking through the mountains to find hidden waterfalls and blissful hot springs. Numb fingers and toes were worth it, as we stood in awe of Iceland’s magical surroundings.

Once you think you’ve seen everything, Iceland finds away to take it to the next level. The evening forecast was consistently cloudy during our trip. But in Skalakot, we were up late one night and kept peeking at the sky. It looked like it was clearing up so we ran outside and saw the lights start to creep over the mountains. The aurora borealis was breathtaking, but I was hypnotized by the millions of stars that lit up the night sky. It felt like we were in another galaxy.

There aren’t many places I plan on visiting again, because there’s so much to see in the world. But there’s something so wild and extreme about Iceland that leaves me wanting more.

TRAVEL 101

Why should I work with a travel specialist?

We are here for one reason: you! We will cut through the clutter and create a killer personalized trip; maximizing the positive, minimizing the negative. We can handle anything – from weekend getaways to gallivants across the globe, and all you have to do is show up. Here are just a few reasons why working with us will seriously up your vacation game:

Planned just for YOU

YOUR needs, YOUR interests, and most importantly YOUR budget! Why D.I.Y. when we just might know what you need more than you do? The best almond croissant in Paris? Easy. The best running path in Portofino? On it. The best sunset view in Southern Utah? We got you (hiking shoes required).

Global Expertise

We’ve probably been there, or are planning on getting there soon. Not to mention, we have an unparalleled community of trusted experts for the inside scoop on any destination. Our “ins” give us the ability take your trip from ordinary to extraordinary.

Value

We have the hook-ups, period. We can send you anywhere you want to go for the same price you can find online, or less. We can also secure special perks including free room upgrades, daily breakfast, and other benefits you simply can’t get on your own (for no extra charge).

VIP Treatment

Who doesn’t want to party like a rock star?! We can get you exclusive access to events, private tours with locals, and VIP service wherever you go – because you deserve it.

Peace Of Mind

We’re here to save you time and stress, and make the most of your money. Plus, we’re available before, during, and after your trip for assistance. We know there’s nothing better than totally letting go – it’s vacation!

So what are you waiting for? Let us know when you’re ready to plan your next getaway, or if you just need some inspiration! We’re here for all your travel needs.

Checking in: AMANGIRI

A sleek and stylish sandstone hideaway in the heart of Navajo country.

A pocket of modern luxury, carved into the Utah landscape. Amangiri offers a contemporary take on luxury, in an utterly private location. This desert retreat is set on 600-acres with an incredible spa, excellent dining, and world-class hiking when you walk out the door.

BOOK YOUR STAY WITH US TO RECEIVE A COMPLIMENTARY MASSAGE FOR TWO!

ROOMS: The resort incorporates the surrounding landscape into its design. Every suite is very discreet and private with a king bed in the center of the room. The decor is simple, with cool tones and understated luxury. All rooms have a private terrace boasting spectacular desert views.


POOL: The heated pool curves around an escarpment of sandstone rock. It's lined with sun loungers and day beds on decks that jut into the water. There's also a nearby Jacuzzi to soak in. Both are open 24 hours a day.


SPA: Aman Spa and water pavilion is one of the highlights of the property. The treatments are infused with the Navajo culture and healing traditions.


RESTAURANT: A small, curated menu of local fare changes regularly. It's diverse yet flavorful, encouraging you to sample Southwest staples. Be sure to call ahead of time for dinner, as reservations are required.


BAR: Due to state laws, there is no formal bar at the resort. But there is a beautiful floor-to-ceiling walnut wine cellar with many offerings by glass or bottle. Cocktail lovers should try the Prickly Pear Margarita or a Sage Mojito, best enjoyed poolside.


KIDS: Guests are a mix of couples, friends and families. There are no interconnecting rooms, although one child can fit in each suite.


GETTING THERE: Catch a commercial flight from Phoenix, Los Angeles or Denver to Page Municipal Airport in Arizona. It's approximately a 25-minute drive from the resort and a free transfer is included in the room rates.

 

 

SmartFlyer Exclusives

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

  • Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests

  • 30 minutes massage for up to 2 guests once per stay

  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

Checking in: AMANYARA

Amanyara is a nature lover's paradise, located on the western shore of Providenciales. It's an easy 20 minute drive from the airport, yet feels like you're a world away. The sleek and stylish resort wouldn't be out of place in the Far East, with Asian influences at every turn. The intimate and romantic vibe hit all the right notes. 

My husband and I spent four nights here, celebrating our five year anniversary. Crazy, right?! We got married right after college, so people always think we're on our honeymoon when we travel together. It's funny to see the look on their faces when we tell them how long we've been together! We spent our honeymoon at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean and it's no surprise our taste in travel has changed dramatically since then. We went back to the white sand beaches, but this time around staying at this secluded seaside retreat in Turks + Caicos.

BOOK YOUR STAY WITH US TO RECEIVE DAILY BREAKFAST, UPGRADES, AND MORE!

We stayed in an Oceanfront Pavillion, raised above the shoreline with dramatic views of the crystal clear water.  We woke up to the sun rising over the ocean and made our way down to the beach for a private yoga class. Working up an appetite, we enjoyed a leisure breakfast on the poolside patio then hit the beach. It's easy to spend the day lounging in the sand, but there were so many fun activities. Every afternoon we'd either take the paddle boards out, searching for sing rays or go snorkeling. Right before the sun starts to set, it's time for some bubbles. Pair that with some great conversation and it's hard to leave! But we're off to dinner. Our favorite place to dine was under the stars. The freshly-caught seafood has an Asian-flare and the veggies are grown in a nearby garden. We topped the day off with a night cap and a game of chess (best out of three) in the open-air pavilion overlooking the infinity pool. 


SmartFlyer Exclusives

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Continental breakfast daily, for up to two in room guests
  • Complimentary a la carte lunch for 2 persons, once during stay (excluding alcohol, taxes and gratuities)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability

 

 

 

 

Hot Spot: ITALY

Italy is officially our top request for 2016, so we figured we’d spare you from future FOMO and entice you to plan your next holiday. Italy has it all – food, wine, art, history, beaches, lakes, countryside, cities.. you get the picture! We’re here to help you tie it all together, and we think fall is the perfect time to go. Here is some inspiration for your ideal Italian getaway:

  •  Tuscany || A natural pair with Florence or Rome, Tuscany in the fall is hard to beat. Get hands on during the wine and olive harvest, or get lost in local museums and quintessential towns that dot the countryside. We love this destination for groups or families looking for a private villa or couples wanting a romantic getaway.
  • Cinque Terre || Despite the crowds, it’s probably still on your bucket list. We’ll make sure it lives up to your expectations. Whether you want to hike or boat through the five villages, we won’t let you miss the must-sees. You’ll work up an appetite to indulge in the local specialties: pesto, focaccia, seafood, and Sciacchetrà, a wine produced up in the hills.
  • Lake Como || Spend your days boating, kayaking or swimming. Not a water baby? Hike through the palm and olive trees and discover the maze of alleyways and small towns surrounding this iconic lake. We’ll set you up at a waterfront palace as elegant today as when it opened in the early 1900s or at the hottest new hotel with a minimalist-chic vibe.
  • Amalfi Coast || You’ve seen the pictures. Trust us – it’s better in person. Spend your days hiking along the “Pathway of the Gods”, lounging poolside or sailing the Mediterranean. Don’t forget to pinch yourself and wash it all down with some Limoncello.
  •  Puglia || Fall head over heels for the Apulia region, where the Italians go to getaway. Think wild beaches, seriously indulgent food and wine, and affordable prices. The region is full of small sleepy towns that are off the tourist trail but worth visiting for their unspoiled history and culture.

Looking to stay closer to home or visit another part of the world? Let us know! We handle anything – from weekend getaways to adventures across the globe. We have the resources to seriously up your vacation game and take your trip from ordinary to extraordinary.

THAILAND ADVENTURES

Words cannot even begin to describe our experience to Thailand. I know this video will help share our story for years to come. It was absolutely incredible. We flew to into Krabi and stayed at Rayavadee on Railay Beach for the week. We didn’t have many plans for the week but stumbled upon so many different activities. Our resort offered a few guided tours, but for the most part we explored the area on our own. It was a perfect balance of relaxation and adventure.

We made memories for a lifetime and I’m so thankful we had a GoPro to capture it all. We took it everywhere we went! I highly recommend investing in one. It’s relatively inexpensive and such a unique and versatile camera. It’s waterproof and virtually indestructible. It even takes still shots and has a timelapse feature.

I don’t think a GoPro should replace your DSLR. I’m still shopping for a nice camera so I borrowed my mom’s Canon for our trip. I have always preferred Nikon but using this camera for a couple weeks had me thinking twice! Pictures make beautiful souvenirs, but you need to allow yourself to truly be there. It’s important to know when to put the camera down and take it all in with your own eyes. These are the memories you will truly cherish for a lifetime. It’s not an easy habit to break but I have adopted this general rule: No photography until I have taken in a scene for several minutes with my own eyes and then have time to slowly create a photograph that would actually be worth sharing.

BANGKOK

I was in a bit of a panic a couple days before we left for our trip. On Tuesday, the Thai Royal Army issued Martial law. We were leaving Thursday. I was scrambling to figure out what this meant for our trip. I contacted the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, our three hotels, and the airlines. I was determined to go on this trip I spent months planning and years looking forward to. I did not want some crazy coup to interfere. Fortunately, it did not. We made the decision to go and just feel it out when we got there. It was definitely the best decision.

We checked into Tower Club at lebua around midnight on Friday. The drive from the airport was eerie. The streets were empty. The city looked deserted. I counted nearly 20 cars during our 30 minute car ride and we saw several checkpoints along the way. During our 18 hour flight, the U.S. increased the travel advisory from a travel alert to a travel warning. The country was under curfew. No one could be out between 10pm-5am unless they had a work permit or were driving to/from the airport. I felt so rebellious. 

The streets of Bangkok are slightly… dirty. But once you get past it, there is so much to see. The houses stacked on top of one another, the infinite number of power lines. The narrow roads and sidewalks filled with vendors. We walked down side streets and through alleys. Our food tour was definitely the highlight of the day.

We met a couple expats on our food tour who guided us to another part of the city. We took the BTS to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It’s one of the largest markets in the world, covering 27 acres! We zigzagged through 15,000 booths selling items from all over Thailand. It looked like a whole bunch of junk to us, but you would be amazed at the number of people filling up bags and bags full of stuff. We saw everything from clothing to electronics to pets and furniture. Everything is negotiable! We had a ton of fun just grabbing a couple of Thai beers and getting lost in it all.

That night we stayed close to our hotel and checked out a couple bars nearby. We had to be back by curfew. Lebua is known for it’s Sky Bar, the world’s highest open air bar. It was great that we could just hang there the rest of the night.

On Sunday morning we played tourist. We took the ferry up the Chao Phraya River to Wat Po, the temple of the Reclining Buddha. It’s also known as the birthplace of the Thai massage. I would have loved to check out the Grand Palace while we were there but we didn’t have much time and we heard it was heavily guarded. I think the ferry ride was my favorite part! But we were both anxious to make our way to the Green Lung.

Across the river, you will find Bangkok’s Green Lung. Bang Krachao is government-protected land that the mighty Chao Phraya River wraps around. It’s remarkable. Stepping into the smog-free green oasis feels like you have been transported to another country. It’s a stark contrast from the concrete jungle just six miles away. Very few Bangkok locals venture across the river to the Green Lung. But we wanted to experience everything the city has to offer.

We stayed at the Bangkok Tree House, an eco-friendly boutique hotel on the river banks. The owner suggested we take a bike tour through the Green Lung with resident guide, Paul Mueller. We biked through lush, tropical vegetation on elevated paths crisscrossing through the island. It was such a peaceful way to explore a unique part of the city. But the lack of guardrails on the raised paths was a little unnerving!

We were way off the beaten path, peaking into the locals lifestyle. The Green Lung is very under-developed, but beautiful in its own way. I was amazed at the simplicity of the locals life. Children laughed and played, shouting “hello” as we breezed past. I waved back, “sawadee ka”  and received a shy smile in return. We passed several technicolor temples and stopped at a beautiful park. The half-day tour was tiresome, but we left with a new outlook on life.

I did a ton of research when I was planning our trip. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and I wanted to do it all. I came across Bangkok Tree House on a couple travel sites I follow and just had to check it out. After spending two nights in the city, it was a great ending to our time in Bangkok. We stayed in the “room with a view” for just one night. It was incredible. We had dinner in our tree house and watched the sunset. It does not get much more romantic than that!

After dinner a small rocket boat picked us up for a ride on the river. We rode along the edge of the river and our guide pointed out several spots where fireflies were mating. They light up so fast, it looks like blinking Christmas lights are tossed into the trees. It was pretty amazing, and a great ending to beautiful night.

Sleeping under the stars in the middle of the jungle, was heaven. Until we woke up the next day. We had bug bites covering our legs. Don’t get me wrong, I expected bug bites… but not this kind. I’m pretty sure every bug imaginable feasted on me overnight. My right knee was so swollen. I was itchy, but surprisingly it was not as bad as you would expect. 

We’re just trying to remember the great things about the Green Lung, not the tiny nasty ones. Then it was off to the islands!

TULUM

I have been dying to explore this Mexican beach town for the last couple years. I thought, what better time to go than in the middle of winter to celebrate my golden birthday! Visiting Tulum was unlike any other trip to Mexico I have experienced. I’m use to being confined to an all-inclusive resort with crappy food and watered down drinks. But this trip allowed me to immerse myself in the culture and get to know the locals. Tulum is a quaint and friendly beach town that is full of life. The strip consists of boutique hotels on the beach and shops and restaurants across the street, in the “jungle”. It was the perfect balance of self-guided exploration and relaxation. My husband and I explored the area by bike in the morning, and were lounging on the beach with drinks in hand by early afternoon.

EAT

The food was fresh and preparation was simple. The restaurants in Tulum are to die for. Chefs from all over the world have set up shop here to bring you an incredible dining experience. It’s important to note that most restaurants are cash only, and they are worth every penny.

Hartwood– This was our favorite meal. New York chefs reinvent the Mexican menu. It opened five years ago and started getting rave reviews from food critics around the world last year. The chefs use the finest local ingredients and cook over a wood fire. The outdoor restaurant is beautiful. Because it’s open to the elements, Hartwood will close if there’s a chance of rain.

Simple– The best fresh fish in town. When you walk in, there is a display case of fresh fish caught that day. You have the option of choosing your fish and the chefs with prepare it four different ways on the grill. You won’t be disappointed with this rustic dish! Simple also has a great selection of Mezcal.

Gitano– It’s a hot spot for dinner, drinks, and dancing. But I would reverse the order: dancing, drinks, and dinner. The food was good, not great. I would recommend skipping the entrees and focusing on the small plates, tapas style. A disco ball hangs over the outdoor dining tables. The place is packed around 10pm but get ready for a late night. The DJ doesn’t start until midnight.

DRINK

Mezcal Monk– If you describe a whole in the wall bar on the beach, this would be it! The drinks are flowing, the music bumping, and people watching is on par. Opt for a seat at the bar, as they are swings instead of stools! The drinks are delicious. They serve up fresh fruit juice mixed with whatever alcohol you prefer. The bartenders are funny and friendly. Pick their brains for the best things to do around town.

Cenzontle Jardin Secreto– As the name suggests, this bar is like a secret garden. I love the outdoor atmosphere of most of the bars and restaurants in Tulum. This spot feels like you are tucked away in the jungle. It’s full of trees and mix-matched vintage furniture. We thought it was a great place for an after dinner drink, recommended by a couple bartenders at our hotel.

El Jaguar– This place had the best drinks in town, hands down! Take a seat at the bar, the staff puts a lot of time and attention into their cocktails and it’s fun to watch. Mezcal is a staple in Tulum, so I would start with that. And the bartenders just might give you a sample of the drinks they make throughout the night, so you can taste test a few!

STAY

Be Tulum– I could not have picked a better place to call home for five days. Be Tulum is located on the southern end of the strip, tucked away in the jungle next to the Caribbean Sea. The rooms are just as stylish as the guests, with a stand-alone bath tub, outdoor shower, and private outdoor space. My husband and I explored the area every morning on bikes your can borrow from the hotel. We settled in by the beach in the early afternoon and were always excited to get back to Be after a busy morning! The boutique hotel is relaxing, yet full of life. There is live music by the pool and a DJ by the beach for a couple hours every afternoon. It’s not a party scene, rather a trendy way to chill out. The beach is full of bean bag-like chairs and daybeds. We snagged a spot on the beach and ordered the usual: two margaritas with chips and guac. This is a great spot to relax until sunset. Then we cozied up to the Tiki Bar to chat with the bartenders. Everyone is so friendly, offering the ins and the outs of the area. The food is just as delicious as the drinks, grab a table in the sand to keep that laid-back vide going!

Coqui Coqui– This place is like Brooklyn meets Mexico, according to my best friend. I’ve never been to Brooklyn but if it’s anything like Coqui Coqui, I’m in!! The hotel is rustic and relaxing. The design is beautiful, resembling the nearby ruins. I peaked in a room and it looked very chic. The hotel is known for its spa, featuring local plants as ingredients. Unfortunately, all appointments were full when I visited but I did get a chance to shop the boutique. The store sells signature perfumes, soaps and other handmade items. My husband and I enjoyed a bottle of rose by the beach, and split ceviche for lunch. It was divine! I also heard they make a perfect piña colada. Cheers!