Hotel Review – The Wynn

During our weekend getaway to Las Vegas last month, we stayed at the Wynn Hotel. The Wynn is a luxury hotel and casino and, in our opinion, is the perfect place to get away in Las Vegas. Even with over 2,700 hotel rooms, the hotel can seem quiet and relaxing (once you leave the casino floor) and almost as if you have the place to yourself.

hotel

Location – The hotel is located on the northern end of the Vegas Strip, and depending on traffic, is usually a 10-15 minute drive to the airport. The hotel is near Fashion Show Mall, the Bellagio and the Venetian.

Customer Service – The service at the hotel is exceptional. Vegas is known for high-end hospitality, but the service at the Wynn is truly over the top.  We never wanted for anything and everyone seemed to be on a mission to make our stay “perfect.”

Accommodations – We stayed in the hotel’s Tower Suites, in a King Suite. Our large room had a very comfortable king bed, a couch and ottoman, a small dining table with two chairs, a desk and chair, and a small bar area. The over-sized bathroom had a huge bathtub, over-sized shower, water closet and double vanities. There was also ample closet space for our luggage, coats, carry-on bags, etc.

wynn-room

wynnbath

wynn-bath-2

Our room also has a great view of the Strip.

wynn-view-from-room

Amenities – The hotel offers far more amenities than we could use during our short stay. The hotel offers many lounging areas, shops for souvenirs and high-end luxury items, casual and high-end restaurants, pools, multiple bars, gaming, a spa and lots, lots more. The hotel also offered complimentary tea, hot chocolate, and coffee in the morning (on the hotel’s casino level, just past the Tower Suite elevators) – which was a great way to start the day. Our room also came with complimentary breakfasts for two.

wynn-sign

Member Recognition – There is a recognition program for the hotel that is linked to the hotel’s gaming functions. We are “members,” but are very low on the totem pole.

We would love to return to The Wynn in the future, most likely on another getaway.

Weekend Getaway – Las Vegas (Part 2)

Saturday – We slept in on Saturday morning – it was glorious. The Wynn’s blackout shades, quiet floors, and heavenly bedding made an amazing sleep chamber for us. It also made for a nice leisurely morning.

sun-rise

We had a really nice breakfast at Tableau, a restaurant located at the base of the Tower Suites elevators at the Wynn. We had a quaint table in the conservatory and a great server.  John and I each ordered entrees and shared them. I especially enjoyed my eggs, bacon, and fresh fruit. John was very into his smoothie and the pastry basket.

sun-break

After breakfast, we hit the Vegas Strip for some serious shopping. We were on the lookout for a few items, and we were also window shopping for a few others. I also dropped off some jewelry at Tiffany for cleaning and to get a few ideas for gifts that I will need to purchase in the future (hello – Mother’s Day!). We spent the majority of time in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, but we also picked up some gifts for family at the Bouchon Bakery at the Venetian.

sun-bouchj

For lunch, we kept on walking down the Strip and ended up at Javier’s at the Aria Hotel. Javier’s is an institution in Dallas, and it is a favorite of John’s from his days at SMU Law School. Our original plan was to eat at Giada’s restaurant, but John was really craving Mexican food over Italian. So, Javier’s it was.

sun-wall

The restaurant is modern, masculine, and has a very intimate feel. It also has an unusual wood carving on it’s back wall that is scary, yet so intriguing. John ordered tacos for lunch, while I enjoyed the rellenos. The food is really good at Javier’s, but it is incredibly mild. If you are looking for food with a kick, you are unlikely to find it here. But if you want a great margarita with Tito’s Vodka or a super flavorful meal, you will be in luck.

sun-lun

After lunch, we started to make the trek back to the Wynn. We stopped at the Forum  Shops again, and John bought me an Apple Watch. I’ve been interested in one for a few months, but we pulled the trigger after I tried one on. I’m excited to learn more about how it works and how it can help me be more efficient and effective in my job and with my fitness goals. I may get a few other bands once I start wearing it, but for now, I am super pleased with my pearl nylon band.

Once we made it back to our room, we changed into robes and slippers and made our way to the spa. John had a custom massage and I had a body polish treatment and a deep-tissue massage. The services were wonderful and the spa environment was tranquil and very relaxing.

After some downtime in the room, we took an Uber to the Bellagio for our dinner reservation at Le Cirque. We have eaten at Le Cirque several times in the past and we consider it to be one of our favorite restaurants. The restaurant is small, quaint, and has exceptional service and food. This visit did not disappoint.

We each selected the 5-course Winter Degustation Menu and I selected the mushroom soup, black truffle risotto, potato encrusted sea bass, organic chicken with asparagus and mushrooms, and the chocolate ball for dessert. The food was exceptional and overall was a  truly enjoyable foodie experience. To boot, we were also celebrating the 14th anniversary of our first date together. Time flies, doesn’t it?

sat-dinner-collage

We were so full with food, wine, and cocktails after our 2.5 hour dinner, that we took an Uber back to our hotel and promptly passed out.

Sunday – After a great evening of rest and tranquility, we woke up on Sunday and immediately began packing and getting ready. John ordered some smoothies and juices for us from room service to help us wake up and get going. While ideally we would have taken a later flight back to Houston, we really wanted to see George and to have some time with him before the work week began.

We checked out of the room and took an Uber to the airport. To our delight, the TSA security line was very short and we were relaxing in the United Club within minutes of our arrival at the airport.

sun-airport

Boarding and take off for our flight back to Houston was easy and on-time.We were served breakfast on-board, but neither of us were too hungry.

flight-break

We both worked the entire flight home so that we could focus on George when we saw him.  Speaking of George, we met him and my parents at Pico’s for an early dinner when we arrived in Houston.

John and I are very lucky to be able to take trips like this together, and we are very fortunate that my parents (and the Hunters!) were able to watch George for us.

sun-us

As we continue to assess our good fortune, we remain ever grateful for the amazing travel and life moments that we are able to experience together.

 

Weekend Getaway – Las Vegas (Part 1)

As we made New Year resolutions earlier this month, John and I were keenly aware that we did a terrible job of carving out time to spend with each other in 2016. We took a fun trip to Napa and had a few dates here and there last year, but we didn’t do as much as we could and should have. So, spending more “alone time” together is a goal of ours for 2017.

Last week, as we compared schedules on Sunday, we discovered that we could make some time on the weekend for a date and/or a date day. So we called my parents and they offered to watch G. Then we got super spontaneous and decided to head to Las Vegas for the weekend. We got to have fun in Sin City and my parents got to have uninterrupted fun time with George. It was a win win for everyone.

Thursday- My parents and the Rosenbergs came over for an impromptu family pizza dinner party. Pink’s Pizza supplied the food and we supplied the chaos. After dinner, my parents took George to their house for the evening.

Friday – John and I were up early (old habits die-hard), so we went about our usual gym and work morning routines. Once I got ready and finalized my packing, I spent the rest of the morning on work calls. In fact, I was on calls all the way to the airport.

To our delight, traffic was light at the airport and we parked and were through security in a snap. After a stop at Cibo for drinks and snacks, we made our way to the Terminal E United Club to relax for a bit. Well, I was on calls in there, but it was much better to do it there than in the main terminal.

We boarded our plane without incident and had an on-time arrival. Lunch was served on the plane and it was pretty blah. Although we weren’t expecting much, the offerings left us very hungry. I picked around my plate and ended up putting my roast beef on the salad and called it a day.

plane-food

After lunch service, I took out my laptop and worked for the next 2.5 hours. Honestly, this was glorious. I got so much work done and had peace and quiet to really focus in on everything that mattered.

sky-plane

We had a super smooth landing and arrived to an airport that wasn’t overly busy.

airport

We took an Uber to the Wynn and check-in was seamless. Because we were a touch early, our room wasn’t ready yet.

wynn

This ended up working out nicely because we were hungry from our sad lunches (and because I hadn’t eaten breakfast) and we needed a snack. We ended up sharing some delicious matzo ball soup and French fries (totally healthy and nutritious, right?) at the hotel’s Zoozacrackers restaurant and it totally hit the spot.

soup

Just as we were finishing our snack, I got a text that our room was ready. Perfect!

view

We quickly settled in and unpacked our things before heading out to do some shopping. Because that’s one of the best reasons to come to Vegas, right? We did a combo of actual shopping and window shopping and it was really fun. John found a great new wallet – a very nice memento from our trip.

Naturally, we also spent some time picking up some treats for our George, including a stop at Tiny Treasures (it’s in the Wynn). This is one of my favorite children’s stores in Vegas and I have found some amazing gifts here over the years.

tiny-treasures

After our shopping excursion, we relaxed in the room and prepared for dinner. Before long, we made our way through the hotel for dinner at Costa di Mare (formerly Bartolotta). We love this restaurant, especially the fresh seafood and homemade pasta, and we were excited to be back.

Dinner did not disappoint. In fact, it was amazing. From the bread, to the impeccable service, to fabulous food, everything exceeded our expectations. We shared a salad before I dug into an orichette and rapini pasta primi presentation. For my secondi, I had the black truffle tagliatelle. Oh my, friends, everything was heavenly. Truly.  For dessert, we ordered an amaretti cheesecake and our server brought us a plate of complimentary chocolates. Both were delicious – sweet without being overwhelming.

sat-dinn-coll-image

After dinner, we walked over to the Parasol Bar. Our plan was to partake in the “water show” that a friend told us about. Well, let me honest. After seeing this “show,” I am questioning the intelligence of our friend. The show was lame and involved an animatronic frog. Need I say more?

frog

After the frog fiasco, we made our way to the Wynn Theatre for the Le Reve show. The show is highly rated and did not disappoint.

show

The show is a mix of water, dance, and side-effects and is well-done.

show2

Given the two-hour time change, and the 9:30 PM show start time, we were really tired by the end of the performance. However, we were glad we went. It was a gray way to end the evening.

 

Work Trip: Santa Fe, NM

Work Trip: Santa Fe, NM

I’ve continued to get requests for details and tips about work travel, so I’ve begun sharing some details about these trips when I can. I hope to post more about these trips in 2017.

A trip to Santa Fe, NM, was on the agenda this week. The trip was a two-night stay and involved multiple meetings in various settings (meetings, meals, presentations, etc.), but it also involved a few fun things. This was my third work trip of the year (the first and second were to Phoenix, AZ, and Little Rock, AR). I’m officially back at the grind for 2017.

Sunday – Prepare/Plan/Travel 

As George has gotten older, pre-trip preparation has become much easier and streamlined. Prep for this trip was pretty easy because we had leftovers in the fridge and I also prepared a chicken spaghetti casserole for John and George to eat while I was away. The guys also had plenty of breakfast options, in part because of a baking party that G and I had on Sunday morning.

I packed some snacks for my trip, including a mix of almonds and cashews, banana chips, and dried apricots. I also grabbed an apple as I was walking out of the door to the airport.

snacks

Other than that, the only other prep I did was to tidy up the house, do some laundry, and take time to carefully pack my bags.

3:30 PM – I left the house and made the drive to IAH. I stopped to fill my car with gas on the way to the airport.

4:05 PM – I pulled into the Terminal C parking lot and immediately found a spot on the Sure Park level. I am loving my new Sure Park membership – especially how close I am to the Terminal C sky-walk. I arrived at the Terminal C security line and immediately encountered a 15 minute line at TSA Pre-Check. This wasn’t a big deal, but I was still surprised by the line.

4:35 PM – I picked up a bottle of sparkling water and filled my portable water bottle before taking the train to Terminal B. Once there, I made a quick stop in the United Club to get all of my carry-ons organized and to watch the news.

5:10 PM- We boarded my flight on time. Even with a small plane, boarding took a while because folks kept on insisting that their bags would fit overhead (they didn’t).

5:45 PM – We finally took off…and I immediately began working. Wifi was super iffy on this flight, so I stuck to non -internet tasks.

sunset

6:45 PM (1 hour time change) – Once we landed, I took the rental car shuttle to the rental center and got a car. It was raining and cold at this point, so I was happy to get into my SUV (which is what I insist on driving when the weather involves snow) and crank the heat up!

7:45 PM – I arrived at the La Posada Santa Fe and received an upgrade to a larger room. I unpacked and mindlessly began working again. Instead of ordering room service for dinner, I ate a Luna Bar with some of my snacks. Isn’t that sad? Well, on the plus side, I got a lot of work done.

dinner

But I should have ordered room service!

11:00 PM – I crawled into bed and passed out.

Monday – Meetings

5:30 AM – I was wide awake, so I went down to the gym for a long walk while watching the news. Thank goodness for 24-hour gyms and 24-hour cable news networks.It was snowing outside and the hotel looked magical, even at that early hour.

snow

snow-2

After returning to my room, I did a strength workout and got ready for the day. Afterwards, I did some work and ate a light breakfast before heading to my meetings.

boots

11:15 AM – After a few commitments, I popped into Sock Magic to pick up a few treats for John and George. This store has great socks and leg wear and I love shopping there.

sock

11:30 AM – I met my colleague and a business associate for lunch at La Plazuela at the La Fonda Hotel. I had a sad little salad with grilled chicken, but had my eye on my favorite chile relleno dish. However, I felt great after lunch and my salad was quite good.

12:45 PM – My colleague and I walked to the State Capitol and spent the rest of the day in a series of meetings and hearings.

5:15PM – Once I left the Capitol, I spent some time in my hotel room working and getting caught up on emails.

6:30 PM – I met up with my colleagues and some friends at Luminaria at the Inn and Spa at Loretto for dinner. We had a really nice meal in front of a crackling fire – super cozy. I was also pleased that the chef was able to make me a Whole 30 compliant dinner of steak, broccolini and a kale salad.

10:00 PM – After a long day, I crashed pretty hard.

Tuesday – Travel 

3:30 AM – I was wide awake and couldn’t get back to sleep. Blerg. I ended up working on emails before heading to the gym for a long walk while watching the news.

5:45 AM – After getting ready and handling my final packing duties, I checked out of the hotel and made my way back to ABQ.

6:50 AM – After a brief refueling stop, I returned my rental car and made my way to the TSA Check-point (which was a breeze with no line). Once I cleared security, I refilled my water bottle and picked up some breakfast items.

7:50 AM – We boarded and took off on time. I spent the flight working on emails and documents.

leave

11:00 AM (1 hour time change) – We landed in Houston and  I made my way back home.  Once I arrived at my house, I immediately unpacked, started a load of laundry, and jumped into a series of work calls and video conferences. I really wanted (and needed!) a nap, but it wasn’t in the cards.

Whole 30: Days 1-5

When I got really ill last month, my primary care physician suggested that I do an elimination diet to potentially discover the root of my health issues and to give my liver and gallbladder-less body a break. I had been considering the idea, but didn’t devise a plan for when I would start or consider many of the details. At the time of my acute illness setback last month, the idea was simply too overwhelming. So, when Nelda suggested the Whole 30 plan as a January wellness challenge, I jumped on board. Things got even better when other family members and friends agreed to participate.

If you aren’t familiar with Whole 30, here it is in a nut shell:

  • No grains
  • No dairy
  • No sugar (real or artificial)
  • No alcohol
  • No legumes

But, you can have lean proteins, healthy fats (a select group), vegetables and fruits. And in the end, isn’t that a really healthy diet?

Monday – Day 1

Since Monday was a travel day for us, I knew the first day of Whole 30 could be challenging. Not impossible, but a real test of mind over matter…err, food.

Breakfast: Because we were traveling, breakfast was consumed on the plane. While John and George ate the meals United provided on board, I assembled an array of things I brought on board and things United provided. My breakfast consisted of a banana, a Justin’s almond butter pack (both packed in advance by me), and a fruit plate (provided by United). Everything was super filling. I also guzzled lots and lots of sparkling water while in flight.

my-break

Lunch: Given the time change, we didn’t have lunch and since none of us were hungry, that was cool with us.

Dinner: Since we made a grocery run on the way home from the airport, I had a lot to work with. I made grilled sausage with sautéed squash and roasted potatoes. Everyone in the house gave this dish a thumbs up.

1d

Tuesday – Day 2

With a business trip in the evening, this was also (technically) a travel day.

Breakfast: I made scrambled eggs with spinach and had a side of strawberries.

2b

Lunch: I made a salad with grilled chicken and lots of veggies.

2l

Dinner: It was almost impossible to find complaint entrees at the (IAH) airport, so I picked up some olives and pumpkin seeds hoping for an on board dinner miracle. I ended up making a small salad with the on board side salad of greens, my (packed from home) deli turkey, and the purchased olives and pumpkin seeds. For a dressing, I used two lemons provided by the flight attendant. I also ate an apple. Clearly this was an unusual dinner – but it worked.

2d2

Wednesday – Day 3

This was also an all-out travel day.

Breakfast: Thanks to the Westin Club Lounge at my hotel, I was able to make a (free) breakfast plate that I ate while watching the news.

3b

Lunch: I swung by Whole Foods on my way to the airport. I ended up making this delicious salad, complete with green salsa for my dressing.

3l

Dinner: My flight from Phoenix to Houston was delayed by three hours, so dinner became a bit of an issue. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to dig into my packed snacks for an on-the-fly dinner, or if I wanted to wait until I got home to eat a late (for me) dinner. I ended up waiting until I got home and made an omelette using leftover roasted potatoes and grilled sausage.

3d

Thursday – Day 4

Breakfast: I made an omelette with spinach and eggs and had some fruit on the side.

4b

Lunch: I picked up some food from the Whole Foods hot bar when I picked up groceries during lunch. I ended up eating salmon, zoodles, broccoli, and blood orange slices.

4l

Dinner: I used this recipe and made meatballs with marinara sauce and served them over zoodles (I also made pasta for John and G). This was a great, easy recipe that I would use again.

4d

Friday – Day 5

Breakfast: I had fun with breakfast and made this monkey salad – banana, blueberries, coconut flakes, cinnamon, and almond butter. This, in my opinion, is a pretty dense breakfast and kept me full for a very long time. Therefore, it would also make a good travel lunch or dinner (note to self).

5b-2

Lunch: I kept things really simple here and reheated leftover zoodles and meatballs. This is a pic of everything cut up so that I could eat my lunch easily while on a work conference call.

5l-2

Dinner: I made this lemon-chicken and served it with roasted broccoli and fruit. I also made couscous for John and George.

5d-2

Three thoughts on Days 1-5:

  • I feel wonderful and am sleeping really well.  I am in no sort of pain – gastrointestinal or otherwise. I have had plenty to eat at all meals and feel very satisfied.
  • This eating lifestyle is challenging, but only from a mental perspective. The plan offers a wide array of choices, although it can be hard to break old habits and ways of thinking, as well as to plan out all meals.
  • Sugar is added to almost everything. When you pay attention to labels, it’s amazing how much you learn about what goes into our food. This has been very eye-opening.

Hotel Review – The Majestic Hotel

During our visit to Yosemite National Park, we were fortunate to be guests at The Majestic Hotel.The Majestic is a four diamond property that is a National Landmark and is on the Registry of Historic Places.  Needless to say, it is considered quite the gem.

out

Location – The hotel is located in Yosemite Valley and, depending on traffic, is usually a 4-5 hour drive from San Francisco. The hotel is nestled within the Park and is conveniently located within walking distance to many trail heads, Park attractions, a medical clinic and stores. The hotel also features stunning views of the natural landscape.

out3

Customer Service – The service at the hotel was hit or miss. Some folks were helpful and friendly, and others simply couldn’t be bothered. I’m not sure if people would chose this hotel based on the customer service level, but since you can’t beat the proximity and historical relevance, I am sure folks generally overlook shortcomings in this area.

605

Accommodations – We stayed at the hotel for four nights in the Mary Curry Tresidder Suite on the sixth floor. Our large room had a very comfortable king bed and plenty of room to accommodate George’s inflatable toddler bed. The bathroom was very large and had a huge bathtub and lots of space and shelving for storing clothes and other items. There was also ample closet space for our luggage, coats, stroller, etc.

bed-2

chair

bed

Amenities – The hotel offers far more amenities than we could use during our stay. In addition to a very large dining hall, the hotel offers many lounging areas, fireplaces and gathering rooms. The hotel also has two shops for souvenirs, food/drinks, a pool, a large bar (with restaurant) and a lot of complimentary Park and hotel tours. The hotel also offered complimentary tea, hot chocolate, and coffee in the morning (on the hotel’s mezzanine level) – which was a great way to start the day. The hotel was also beautifully decorated for the holidays.

dining

hall

Member Recognition – There is no recognition program for the hotel, but clearly a lot of guests were “regulars.”

walk

We would love to return to The Majestic in the future, most likely on a family vacation.

door

Hotel Review – St. Regis San Francisco

While in San Francisco, we were guests at The St Regis.

Location – The hotel is about 14 miles from the SFO airport — depending on the traffic, the commute can be anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour. If you take the BART, it’s a 25 minute ride. The hotel is on 3rd street and is across the street from the Yerba Buena Park.  It is also right next door to the SFMOMA – a very large part of our reason to stay there.

hotel

Customer Service – The service at the hotel was top notch. Everyone was extremely gracious and informative and certainly family-friendly. The hotel went out of their way to spoil George – including giving him a welcome git of milk and cookies and a small treat bag.

cookies

gift-bag

Accommodations – We stayed two nights at the hotel and we enjoyed a very quiet deluxe room on an upper floor of the hotel.  Our large room had a very comfortable king bed and  plenty of room to accommodate George’s inflatable toddler bed. The bathroom (how did I forget to snap a picture or two?) was very large and had a huge bathtub and separate shower with multiple shower heads.

rooma

room-b

Amenities – The hotel offers far more amenities than we could use during our short stay. In addition to a large restaurant and large bar, the hotel offers many lounging areas and rooms. The hotel also has a fitness center, a spa and many in-hotel shops for souvenirs, food/drink, books, jewelry, art and the like.The hotel also offered complimentary tea and coffee in the morning (in the hotel lobby) – which is a very welcome amenity in our view. The hotel was beautifully decorated for the holidays and G loved staring into the lobby fireplace.

fire

Member Recognition – As a Platinum Starwood member, we were treated like VIPs. For example, during our stay, we were treated to complimentary breakfasts for two (a value of at least $75.00) and were given a nice room upgrade.

We are very likely to return to the St. Regis San Francisco, most likely on a family vacation.