Travel: The Hotel of South Beach

We found The Hotel of South Beach for our long weekend in Miami and couldn’t have been happier. A boutique, art deco hotel one block off the ocean with a perfect rooftop pool? Perfect.

The rooms aren’t big – boutique art deco means small – but gorgeous, fully adequate and very Miami feeling. The rest of hotel was magical as well. Even more so, the service was mind-blowing. The guys at the desk, the bell hop, the valet, the other guys in the lobby — all went out of their way to take care of us.

Miami isn’t known for its service, but these guys were impeccable. I call them “guys” because they were literally all guys and joked with Leo about having the guts to wear a Cavaliers jersey in Heat-country, made sure I never lifted a bag on my own, held doors and shot the shit with Leo at every chance they had. Loved them.

This kind of service isn’t midwestern hospitality – it didn’t feel coached or like it was expected. It was almost an unspoken bond between Leo and the staff, which I didn’t need to be in on, but they all were. The team at the Hotel of South Beach treated us like royalty and their old friends at the same time. Perfection. The service alone would draw 5 stars from us, but add in the room, bathroom, pool and reserved chairs on the beach? Is more than 5 stars even possible?

Possibly the best part? Roof top pool overlooking the ocean that never had more than five people on the deck, a bar and cabanas for sipping cocktails and towels brought to you as needed. Of course, I forgot to take even mobile pictures of the pool or the hotel. Oh well, you get the gist.

This is living.

Lounging at the pool looking at the ocean. Utter peace with service as needed.
Lounging at the pool looking at the ocean. Utter peace with service as needed.
Apparently you aren't supposed to wear Cavs jerseys in Miami? Didn't slow Leo down.
Apparently you aren’t supposed to wear Cavs jerseys in Miami? Didn’t slow Leo down.

Travel: Sunrise on South Beach

Following dinner at the delicious Havana 1957, we headed to meet with a friend of Leo’s from high school and his girlfriend. We went to their apartment complex – equal to a resort in my eyes, with the views and the pools (yes, plural) of the nicest resorts – and partied late into the night. Meeting folks I can only describe as classic Miami – models (yes, really) and entrepreneurs – was a blast and relaxing on a patio overlooking the beautiful city and the water couldn’t be beat!

While we were leaving, our friends suggested heading back to the beach to enjoy the sunrise and breakfast back on the side of the island where our hotel was. We had a romantic morning goofing around on the beach, watching the sun come up, wading into the ocean and watching as the city slowly woke up before we’d even gone to bed!

This is South Beach Miami.

A quiet South Beach bright and early in the morning.
A quiet South Beach bright and early in the morning.
I'm not one to stay up all night, so I requested proof in the form of a photograph....
I’m not one to stay up all night, so I requested proof in the form of a photograph….
Which turned into a little photoshoot!
Which turned into a little photoshoot!
Leo managed to capture me at my best angle despite being up still at 7 am!
Leo managed to capture me at my best angle despite being up still at 7 am!
Trying to keep the purse dry, but hardly caring because the water was so warm.
Trying to keep the purse dry, but hardly caring because the water was so warm.
Love him and love Miami. Just lots of love.
Love him and love Miami. Just lots of love.
Cell phone in hand about to be a photographer.
Cell phone in hand about to be a photographer.
Watching the sun come up with the love of my life. Amazing.
Watching the sun come up with the love of my life. Amazing.
This sums up the whole trip - relaxing.
This sums up the whole trip – relaxing.

Travel: Havana 1957

While this place was on the beaten path of South Beach's popular Espanola Way, the flavors and impeccable service did not disappoint.
While this place was on the beaten path of South Beach’s popular Espanola Way, the flavors and impeccable service did not disappoint.

I dream of one day going to Cuba, but due to some, ahem, restrictions, it isn’t happening anytime soon. My May visit to Miami, almost a celebration of our engagement, only fueled that desire even more!

One of my favorite evenings of the trip started on Espanola Way on South Beach. The strip of restaurants has everything you can imagine, but we landed at Havana 1957 at the suggestion of our wonderful hotel staff. Our wish was for authentic Cuban cuisine without venturing too far from where we were staying.

They suggested reservations. We ignored, not wanting to commit without scoping the place first. But the enormous smile of the hostess and her warm welcome pulled us right into this open air Cuban restaurant. All the wait staff, dressed in white and red,  sauntered around the crowded, though not overly so, restaurant, bar and patio with a rhythm that my Anglo ancestry will never afford me. Bummer.

The staff humored me with the assumption that I spoke Spanish (my recently colored dark brown hair and hispanic fiance may have helped my case, but I think they were just being kind) and Juan Carlo, our waiter, charmed us completely. At his suggestion, we each ordered a standard Cuba Libre with a selected rum. With real Coke in a glass bottle poured over a tasty rum, I was sold before even eating dinner!

Alas, we were there to eat. I was craving seafood being so close to the ocean from land-locked Denver, but Leo wanted red meat. I ordered the Pescada a la Plancha, again at Juan Carlo’s suggestion, and was not disappointed. Fresh food with light flavors absolutely hit the spot on a hot evening on South Beach. The dish comes with a side salad, but I recommend swapping it for the black beans which are absolutely incredible.

Leo chose the Churrasco a la Cubana, a flank steak with grilled onions, white rice and black beans. It is amazing what the chef makes white rice and black beans taste like. Words would fail me, and disappoint the chef so I won’t try.

Anyways, the restaurant was a perfect dinner out, and we finished it with a walk up and down Espanola Way before heading out on the town for a Friday in South Beach.

Located right on the corner of Washington and Espanola Way, this is a perfect place for a romantic dinner with a uniquely Cuban flair.
Located right on the corner of Washington and Espanola Way, this is a perfect place for a romantic dinner with a uniquely Cuban flair.
At night, this lights up with all the restaurants and bustle of visitors to South Beach.
At night, this lights up with all the restaurants and bustle of visitors to South Beach.
Leo and I so happy after dinner and a walk along Espanola Way.
Leo and I so happy after dinner and a walk along Espanola Way.
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Travel: Miami on my Mind

We sat along this street and watched people for hours.
We sat along this street and watched people for hours.

Back in May, I had the chance to visit Miami with the love of my life for a luxurious three day weekend. What a treat!

I flew in to Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday night, Leo scooped me up and we stayed downtown (in the Brickell neighborhood).

Friday, I was on my own to explore the downtown area for a few hours, walk around the business district and explore a harbor on Biscayne Bay. I started the morning with my first shellac mani (amazing!) at a little french/spanish salon. Then, it was all wandering, saying hi to the creatures on the fire hydrants and dreaming about living on the ocean.

We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday on South Beach and it was an absolute dream! A few snapshots below, but highlights included a dinner at Havana 1957 (top ten meal and cocktail memories of my life, more to come on this one), afternoons on South Beach looking at beautiful, exotic people and fashion, and our amazing art deco boutique hotel — the Hotel of South Beach.

More pictures to come this week, but just going through these gives me butterflies. Miami is one of the most incredible places I’ve been, and hearing multiple different languages, trying different ethnic foods and lounging at the pool – doesn’t get much better! Throw in fresh mojitos and I’d call Miami a ten.

Miami Beach Patrol
Miami Beach Patrol
A quick walk along the beach before heading for the airport.
A quick walk along the beach before heading for the airport.

South Beach Walkway

Versace's house on South Beach.
Versace’s house on South Beach.
Walking around the business district (Brickell) admiring palm trees and beautiful people.
Walking around the business district (Brickell) admiring palm trees and beautiful people.
Oh the colors of Art Deco in South Beach!
Oh the colors of Art Deco in South Beach!
Awesome mural on the street. Feels like Miami, right?
Awesome mural on the street. Feels like Miami, right?
Hi little guy! Met along my walk in the neighborhood around Brickell.
Hi little guy! Met along my walk in the neighborhood around Brickell.
A marina in Miami - great for people watching and dreaming about living on the ocean.
A marina in Miami – great for people watching and dreaming about living on the ocean.
If I lived in Miami, this would be my view walking to work. A girl can dream.
If I lived in Miami, this would be my view walking to work. A girl can dream.

Mountain escape and the best of friends

I’m incredibly blessed to have the folks in these pictures as friends. A few old, but mostly new since moving to Colorado, these are just a few of the people that make this place home.

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We went up to Beaver Creek to stay in Tom’s family’s condo a few months ago and I just found these pictures on my camera, so I figured I’d share. Late but not lost! Lot’s of drinking, eating great food and playing games up in the mountains. So refreshing! 

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My favorite couple making breakfast for the crew. Cute in their robes, and what you can’t see is that most of the group was also in their robes. This is luxury. 

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The girls giggling – you’d be amazed how long it took just to get one semi-decent shot of us! Alcohol was obviously involved and can be blamed for any poor photos. 🙂 

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Even portraits on shirts needs a sip of the apple pie drink – the greatest cocktail I’ve ever had. 

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And then there’s there two – we all go way back and I love both of them like family!

{trip report} Day 4: Sea elephant rookery and Big Sur

Please don’t mind the incessant posting about my roadtrip with the family. This is my way of making sure my family can see the pictures as we live so far away! Thanks!

I think we covered the most ground on day 4 of our Pacific Coast adventure. We drove from San Simeon up to Monterey Bay. On the way we stopped at a sea elephant rookery which is basically the cutest thing you’ll ever see! Big gelatinous grey creatures flipping warm sand on their backs and hanging out on a private beach.

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We stopped in Big Sur for lunch, paid way too much for a lunch that actually ended up being top notch. With views like these, you can charge anything you want for macaroni and cheese and a deconstructed BLT.

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Rounded our the afternoon taking pictures on a super scary windy cliff. Can’t you see the fear in their faces?? A wonderful afternoon driving on the prettiest stretch of the 101 — Big Sur, California!

{trip report} Day 5: Carmel by the Sea

This place could be known as the quaintest oceanside town in California. The fact that a two bedroom, one bath bungalow costs more than 2 million dollars will keep me dreaming. My mom and I enjoyed shopping, I fell in love with no fewer than a hundred things and happened to make a purchase. Birkenstock’s! After two, yes two, big tow injuries, I needed something more solid to keep my feet safe as we hoofed it around the coast. Here’s just a few quick snaps of foggy/sunny Carmel by the Sea.

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Hand-dipped candles anyone?

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Give me this half door and tilework and I’ll be a happy girl.

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Pretty sign! But my favorite thing in the town…

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This piece of art with a crankshaft and various magnifying pieces of glass. And a clutch plate (I think — Papa, correct me If I’m wrong) brought it together. We stayed in this shop called Paloma’s home furnishings for more than an hour chatting with the shop manager (owner, not sure?) and drooled over their beautiful copper top tables. 

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We capped off a long day being tourists in Monterey (recap coming soon) with some treats from this cute little coffee shop. A carmel steamer put me right to sleep. My favorite pictures from the entire trip will be up soon – fog rolling into the rocky shores!

My morning inspiration v.2

If you know me, you know I’m close to my family. Really close. They keep me grounded, motivated and always inspired. I really need to visit them for a good recharge soon!

While we were driving up to San Simeon, we stopped to watch the sunset and..well, the pictures speak for themselves, incredible. 

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This last one is my favorite of my mom and I from the entire trip! And this is what I’m thinking about to get me through the last day of the work week.

Happy Friday loves. How are you recharging this weekend?

{trip report} Day 3: Santa Barbara Harbor & Brophy Bros.

Check out the Mission, drive through the town, walk around a bit, but make for damn sure you go to Brophy Bros. Restaurant and Clam Bar. The view, the staff, the food, not sure what was my favorite, but this place ranks in my top memories from my entire trip. 

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Few things warm my soul more than an active fish market – smells and everything. Clearly Caleb was intrigued as well. 

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Not sure how this happened, but for my favorite meal, I didn’t capture but one picture…of my second oyster. It was amazing – the fresh taste of the ocean, earthy and lemony. I was probably too busy scarfing super fresh little shrimp with tons of horseradishy cocktail sauce, then a warm bowl of the best clam chowder I’ve ever had to shot pictures. Wrap me up with a heaping bowl of seafood pasta and this place gets my vote. The resulting food coma was glorious. This mid-afternoon meal replaced lunch and dinner. 

My brother had a sharkfish (or something) and wasn’t impressed, but my parents enjoyed the salmon dish they split. The atmosphere swayed us incredibly positive either way. 

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My parents smiling while we walked around the harbor. We stopped and looked at boats for sale along the shops and dreamed about life in Santa Barbara. It could happen! This was the first place we visited in California that I could see myself living. The house styles, the ocean, the general calm of grown up successful hippies does a place really well. 

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Have you been to Santa Barbara? What did you think in comparison to other California towns?